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US police officer who claims she mistook gun for taser guilty of manslaughter

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter
Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter   -   Copyright  AP/AP   -  

A former police officer in the US who claimed she mistook her gun for a taser when she shot and killed a young black man during a traffic stop has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Kim Potter, 49, killed Daunte Wright, 20, during the traffic stop in Minneapolis in April.

The killing of Daunte Wright, who was black, led to a fresh wave of protests, with the incident occurring in the same city where George Floyd was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin last year.

Potter has always claimed she drew her gun by mistake, thinking it was a taser, when she shot Wright, who she said resisted arrest.

On April 11, 2021, the policewoman was on patrol with a colleague who decided to check the driver of a white Buick for a minor traffic violation.

After realising that there was a warrant for his arrest, they decided to arrest him.

Wright, who was unarmed, did not allow himself to be handcuffed and started his car to flee. Kim Potter then drew what she said she thought was her stun gun.

“I just shot him. I grabbed the wrong (expletive) gun,” Potter said on video shown to the jury. A minute later, she said: “I’m going to go to prison.”

During her sometimes tearful testimony, Potter told jurors that she was “sorry it happened.” She said the traffic stop “just went chaotic."

The jury found her guilty of manslaughter after three days of deliberations.

The former policewoman, who pleaded not guilty, did not react on Thursday when the verdict was announced.

She faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison in total and is expected to be sentenced in February.

Her lawyer, Paul Engh, pleaded human error and the effect of stress because she was trying to protect her colleague.

But prosecutor Erin Eldridge said Daunte Wright died as a result of careless handling of a weapon and the negligence of a 26-year veteran officer.