Washington, Dec 23 (EFE).- A jury on Thursday found former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.
Potter’s defense attorneys had argued that last April when the young Black man resisted officers and scuffled with them, she intended to draw her Taser to immobilize him but accidentally drew her pistol and shot him once, killing him.
After three-and-a-half days of deliberations, the jury found Potter, 49, guilty on both charges she was facing.
The first charge – first-degree manslaughter – carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a $30,000 fine, while the second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars and a $20,000 fine.
In the hushed courtroom, Judge Regina Chu read the decision of the jury while Potter stood and listened impassively as two members of her defense team stood beside her with their hands on her shoulders in a sign of support.
Potter remained calm, swallowing at one point and looking to the side, according to local television images, which were retransmitted live.
Wright died near the shooting scene on April 11 in a traffic stop that turned into an attempted arrest because officers found that he had an outstanding warrant.
The police body-cam video of the incident, which was made public by local authorities and was shown in court during the trial, shows how three police officers approached Wright’s vehicle and one of them tried to handcuff him, but the young man resisted and tried to get back in his car.
Then, as shown on the video, a scuffle ensued and Potter, who was standing back from the officer who was trying to restrain Wright, drew her pistol and shouted in warning “Taser, taser, taser!” after which one gunshot is heard and, as Wright drove away only to die a short distance away, exclaimed in surprise: “I shot him!”
Police said that they had stopped the vehicle because it did not have its papers in order, asked Wright for identification and then found out that he had a pending arrest warrant, whereupon they tried to arrest him.
That was when he tried to get back into his vehicle, ostensibly to flee, and Potter shot him.
During the Minneapolis trial, the former police officer had to respond to multiple questions that the prosecutor posed to her about her Taser and the differences between a Taser and a regulation sidearm, or pistol, in terms of its size, shape and weight.
As images displayed during the trial showed, the Taser is larger and bulkier than a pistol.
Wright’s death occurred near a city – Minneapolis – where emotions were already running high regarding the trial of then-police officer Derek Chauvin for the May 2020 killing of George Floyd while the African American man was in police custody. That trial had been under way at the time of Wright’s death.
In May 2020, Chauvin killed Floyd by kneeling on his neck, cutting off his oxygen, for more than nine minutes after the suspect had been subdued and was lying on the pavement. The ex-police officer was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison.