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Former US police officer found guilty in death of Black man

Kimberly Potter (center) and her lawyers reacting as the verdict was read on Thursday. (AP photo)

A former US police officer has been found guilty in the shooting death of a young African-American man earlier this year.

Kim Potter, who is white, was convicted Thursday of the first and second degree manslaughter of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota in April.

Potter says she mistook her handgun for her Taser and fatally wounded Wright, a 20-year-old father, on April 11.

On that day, Potter was patrolling with a colleague who decided to look up the driver of a Buick that had committed a minor traffic violation.

After realizing that the driver was the subject of an arrest warrant, they decided to arrest him.

When they were trying to apprehend Wright, he attempted to get back into his vehicle. The black man then can be seen in a police video climbing back into the driver’s seat of the vehicle as the officers scuffle with him.

In Potter’s body camera footage from the incident, she can be heard yelling, "I’ll tase you!" and "Taser! Taser! Taser!" before firing her handgun.

On Thursday, Judge Regina Chu ordered Potter to be taken into custody and held without bail.  Chu also scheduled her to be sentenced on Feb. 18.

Potter now faces a maximum of 15 years in prison on the first charge and 10 years on the second.

Wright's family said in a statement that they were "relieved" there had been "some measure of accountability for the senseless death of their son, brother, father and friend."

"From the unnecessary and overreaching tragic traffic stop to the shooting that took his life, that day will remain a traumatic one for this family and yet another example for America of why we desperately need change in policing," they said.

The man’s death triggered several nights of protests and unrest in Brooklyn Center before Potter's arrest calmed tensions.

In May 2020, white policeman Derek Chauvin asphyxiated George Floyd, who was Black, in Minneapolis by kneeling on his neck for some nine minutes.

Video footage of the deadly arrest sparked protests in the US and around the world decrying US racism and US police brutality against Black people.

Chauvin, who had previously been convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges for killing Floyd, pleaded guilty to charges of violating the Black man’s civil rights last week, withdrawing his earlier ‘not-guilty’ plea.

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