At least one Minnesota gubernatorial candidate would consider commuting the sentence of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter if he were elected.
In a two-and-a-half minute clip posted to Twitter, Dr. Scott Jensen said it sickened him to see Potter, a “good policewoman,” kept in custody and away from her family over Christmas. He blamed this on politicized judges who nevertheless allow “hardened repeat felons to get out of prison.”
In December, Potter was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter for accidentally killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright. She claims she meant to grab her Taser instead of her gun, but the jury ultimately determined she had acted with sufficient negligence and that a sincere mistake can still be a crime.
“I think we need to push back against our judges. We can’t afford to have our judicial system invaded by the political winds. We need our judges to be better than that,” Dr. Jensen said. “We don’t need a bunch of liberal judges that are interested in commuting a sentence from ten years down to four months. And the prosecuting attorneys are problematic as well.”
“If I become governor, you can mark my words: I will be looking seriously at commuting [Potter’s] sentence,” he added.
I’m glad to hear prosecutors are backing off ridiculous sentences for Officer Kim Potter. I said it last week, I stand with good cops and she made a mistake.
I’ll look seriously at commuting her sentence as Governor.pic.twitter.com/uiaBM1j5nF
— Scott Jensen (@drscottjensen) February 17, 2022
Commuting a sentence is different than pardoning a crime. A pardon is a legal absolution that forgives the convicted defendant of his or her crime. A commutation, on the other hand, reduces or eliminates a sentence but does not legally absolve the conviction. Hence, in this case, Potter would still retain her conviction for first- and second-degree manslaughter if a hypothetical Gov. Jensen looked at commuting her sentence.
In Minnesota, commutations are granted by the Board of Pardons, which consists of the governor, attorney general, and Supreme Court chief justice. Decisions must be unanimous.
Potter faces sentencing on Friday, and prosecutors have now agreed not to seek a “longer-than-usual” sentence.
“In a court filing this week, prosecutors said a sentence of slightly more than seven years — which is the presumed penalty under the state’s guidelines — would be proper,” according to PBS.
The defense wants a lighter sentence and has argued for probation in one court filing.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association is also calling on Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu to give Potter probation so she can continue “serving her community.”
“Friday’s sentencing will bring a legal conclusion to a tragedy that devastated families and an entire community,” said executive director Brian Peters.
“By taking the totality of circumstances into account from that fateful day and undisputed facts in the trial, including the impeccable record of Ms. Potter and her 27-year career protecting and serving the community, we are hopeful Judge Chu will sentence Ms. Potter with an opportunity to serve her community through probation, which was cited by the State in their February 15, 2022 court brief,” he added.