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Verdict in ex-officer Potter's trial is bittersweet, says Daunte Wright's aunt

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Kim Potter, a white 26-year veteran of the police force in Brooklyn Center, Minn., is in jail after being convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright. The 20-year-old Black man was pulled over by police on April 11 this year. Potter said she confused her handgun with her taser while trying to stop him from driving away. She fired, and Wright was lethally wounded. Next February, she's scheduled to be sentenced for what could be many years in prison.

Naisha Wright is Daunte Wright's aunt, and she's with us on the line along with the family's attorney, Benjamin Crump. Thank you both for being here.

NAISHA WRIGHT: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for having us.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Thank you.

MCCAMMON: Ms. Wright, I want to start by asking you, first of all, just how you and your family are doing this morning.

WRIGHT: Oh, we're, of course, blessed that we were able to wake up, you know, we'll be able to see each other. But it's bittersweet still, you know, because Daunte's not here, and tomorrow is Christmas.

MCCAMMON: Mmm hmm.

WRIGHT: Very emotional. Very emotional. Happy that, you know, there were guilty charges. But it's very, very emotional because, again, he's not here. And tomorrow, what we'll be able to look at is his urn on top of the fireplace.

MCCAMMON: Ms. Wright, does this verdict - does it bring your family a sense of justice at all?

WRIGHT: Justice would have been if we could have got him back. We at least feel happy that there was some accountability. But justice? If we could change the system, that's justice.

MCCAMMON: Mr. Crump, I want to ask you, as an attorney who's been at the forefront of a number of high-profile cases of Black men who've been killed, there's a marked difference from when you represented Trayvon Martin's family in 2012. Do you feel that these recent verdicts following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright - do you think they signal a change in the system?

CRUMP: I think we are making progress. It's difficult to believe that in February, it will be 10 years since Trayvon Martin was profiled, pursued and shot in the heart as he walked home with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea from the 7-Eleven by the neighborhood watch volunteer. And so in February, we all will be saying - Trayvon Martin 10 years later, - how far has America come in its quest for racial justice? And I think the recent verdicts of guilty regarding the killers of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and, most recently, Daunte Wright will make a profound proclamation of the progress that we've made.

MCCAMMON: What do you want police departments to do to try to make sure this doesn't happen again?

CRUMP: Well, that is the continuous struggle - for there to be continuous implicit bias training, continuous conflict resolution training. The thing that was really troubling in this tragedy that claimed the life of Daunte Wright was the fact that many people said if Daunte was a young white man, would they have even pulled the taser? And so it is troubling when you see so many Black people end up dying because of traffic stops in America.

MCCAMMON: Ms. Wright, as you know, this case sparked protests, and it was part of a larger movement. But your nephew, Daunte Wright, was a father. His son was just a year old when this happened. What...

WRIGHT: Yes, ma'am.

MCCAMMON: Yeah. What will you tell him about his father?

WRIGHT: Everything. Everything. From what he was from birth to what he could have been. There's nothing to hide. Daunte Jr. will know who his father was from all of us - his grandparents, his great - I'm his great-aunt. Everyone. He will know who Daunte is. Plus, now Daunte is in history. He's a part of history. So Daunte Jr. will know everything - that beautiful smile his father had, the excitement that his father had when he was born. Everything.

MCCAMMON: Daunte Wright's aunt, Naisha Wright, and attorney Benjamin Crump. Thank you both, and I wish you peace this holiday season.

WRIGHT: Thank you. Thank you. Same to you, and happy holiday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.