AG Ellison: Conviction of Kimberly Potter provides ‘measure of accountability’ on ‘long road to justice for all’

Holds law enforcement ‘in high regard and to high standards’; holding Potter accountable ‘doesn’t diminish you’

‘All of us will miss out on who Daunte could have been…there will be an empty chair at the Wright family dinner table during the holidays’

December 23, 2021 (MINNEAPOLIS) — A jury in Hennepin County today found former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter guilty on charges of manslaughter in the first and second degree for the April 11, 2021 death of Daunte Wright. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the prosecution, made the following remarks following the jury’s verdict: 

At this moment, I ask us all to reflect on the life of Daunte Wright and who he could have grown up to be. 

At 20, Daunte could have done anything. Maybe he could have gone into the trades. Maybe he could have started a business. What we know is that he was a new, young, doting father to Daunte, Junior. We know he loved his mom, his dad, and his big, beautiful family.  He had his whole life before him. He could have become anyone.  

All of us will miss out on who Daunte would have been.  

No one has missed him more than his parents Katie and Aubrey and their children. I’m very mindful today that there will be an empty chair at the Wright family dinner table during the holidays. That saddens me and I once again extend my deepest condolences to them. 

With the jury finding Kimberly Potter guilty today of manslaughter in the first degree and manslaughter in the second degree in connection with his death, we have a measure of accountability for Daunte’s death. Accountability is not justice: justice would be restoring Daunte to life and making the Wright family whole. Justice is beyond our reach for Daunte. But accountability is an important step on the long road to justice for all. 

I want to thank the jury for their careful attention and deliberation and for their service to the people of Minnesota. I also want to thank all the witnesses who testified in this difficult case. 

I especially want to thank this remarkable team. When I took this case, I said it would be difficult to prosecute, because history has shown that trying cases like this one is difficult. This team did not shy away from the challenge. The people of Hennepin County and the American people saw in the courtroom the fruit of their hard work and dedication over these many months. 

From my office, this remarkable team includes Matthew Frank, Erin Eldridge, Eric Miller, David Voigt, and Dionne Dodd. From the office of my colleague and partner, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, the team includes Joshua Larson, Raoul Shah, and Vernona Boswell. 

I also want to thank the many staff at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who worked on this case: superintendent Drew Evans, those who testified in the case, and the many more who put in long hours. We appreciate your service. 

The next step in this case is sentencing. All I will say about that today is that we look forward to the court setting a calendar for it and that we will make our sentencing recommendation to the court at the appropriate time. 

My thoughts are also with Ms. Potter today. She has gone from being an esteemed member of the community, an honored member of a noble profession, to being convicted today of a serious crime. I don’t wish that on anyone, but it was our responsibility as the prosecution, as ministers of justice, to pursue justice wherever it led, and the jury found the facts.  

My thoughts are also with those who work in law enforcement and public safety. We hold you in high regard and we also hold you to high standards. We don’t want you to be discouraged. Your community respects and appreciates you. We want you uphold the highest ideals of safety, and when a member of your profession is held accountable, it doesn’t diminish you. In fact, it shows the world that those of you who enforce the law are also willing to live by it. That’s a good thing. It restores trust, faith, and hope.   

As author Danielle Sered has written, “Justice exists when all parties exercise their power in a way that is consistent with the humanity of everyone involved and in the interest of the greater good.” The “humanity of everyone involved” includes the humanity of community members, and it includes the humanity of police officers. But when that standard of justice is not upheld, it must be the job of a prosecutor to step in and attempt to uphold it and uphold the principle that no one is above the law and no one is beneath it. 

Finally, my thoughts are with the community of Brooklyn Center — residents, elected officials, and police officers — and all communities that hunger for better relations between police and community and for everyone to get home safe at the end of the day. I hope today’s verdict provides a measure of healing for all of them.