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Ex-Minnesota police officer found guilty of manslaughter in shooting of Daunte Wright

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A Minnesota jury on Thursday found former police officer Kimberly Potter guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop at which she mistakenly discharged her handgun instead of her Taser.

A 12-member jury found Potter, 49, guilty of first degree and second degree manslaughter in the death of the 20-year-old Wright, who she killed in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11 with a bullet to the chest.

Potter, who broke down last week on the stand as she testified to her remorse for the shooting, showed little emotion as the Judge Regina Chu read the verdict.

“We will be taking Ms. Potter into custody and holding without bail,” Chu said.

The shooting sparked multiple nights of intense demonstrators in Brooklyn Center. It happened just a few miles north of where Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was at the same time standing trial https://www.reuters.com/world/us/jurors-resume-deliberations-derek-chauvin-murder-trial-2021-04-20 for killing George Floyd, a Black man whose 2020 death during an arrest had set off protests in U.S. cities over racism and police brutality.

Chauvin was convicted of murder. Both he and Potter are white.

Caught on Potter’s body-worn camera, the basic facts of the incident were for the most part not in dispute. Both prosecutors and the defense attorneys agreed that Potter mistakenly drew the wrong weapon and never meant to kill Wright.

At issue was whether the jury would find her actions to be reckless in violation of the state’s manslaughter statutes, or chalk up the incident to a tragic mistake that did not warrant criminal liability.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors stressed Potter’s 26 years as a police officer, a level of experience they said made her mistake indefensible. They said she disregarded her training, which included Taser-specific courses in the months before the shooting, and took a conscious and unreasonable risk in using any weapon against the unarmed Wright.

Potter’s attorneys sought to blame Wright for resisting arrest, which they argued had created a dangerous situation and justified her use of force. While acknowledging her mistake, they said her actions were not criminal because she thought she was using her Taser and was unaware she had drawn her handgun.

The defense also leaned heavily on Dr. Laurence Miller, a psychologist who testified about “action error,” or when a person takes one action while intending to do another. Miller said such mistakes were common and can be triggered by stress.

To secure a conviction on the first degree manslaughter charge, prosecutors were required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Potter caused Wright’s death while committing the misdemeanor offense of recklessly using a firearm, according to Minnesota law.

For second degree manslaughter, the jury was required to find Potter was guilty of “culpable negligence,” meaning she created an “unreasonable risk and consciously” took a chance of causing Wright death or serious bodily harm.

(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, ConnecticutEditing by Alistair Bell)

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U.S. charges man with human smuggling after 4 freeze to death near Canada border

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U.S. authorities on Thursday charged a man with human smuggling of Indian nationals from Canada, the day after four people including a baby were found frozen to death in a remote part of Canada close to the Minnesota border.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota said 47-year-old Steve Shand had been arrested just south of the border on Wednesday while driving two undocumented Indian citizens.

U.S. border patrol agents soon came across five more Indians traveling on foot, one of whom was carrying a backpack belonging to a family of four who had become separated from the group as they all tried to cross the border.

They alerted Canadian police who found the victims – a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby – about 40 feet (12 meters) from the frontier with Minnesota. First indications are that they died from exposure to the cold.

“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a televised news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Wind chill had driven down the temperature to minus 35 C (minus 31 F), she said.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the four victims had tentatively been identified as the missing Indian family.

The five Indian nationals explained they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone and estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours.

Shand has been charged with one count of human smuggling. He is next due in court on Jan 24.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

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Canada agency says Russian-backed actors targeting infrastructure

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Network operators of critical Canadian infrastructure should boost their defenses against Russian state-sponsored threats, Canada’s signals intelligence agency said on Thursday.

The warning from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is the latest in a series of bulletins from Canada’s two main spy agencies accusing Russian actors of trying to hack into sensitive computer systems.

“(CSE) encourages the Canadian cyber-security community —especially critical infrastructure network defenders — to bolster their awareness of and protection against Russian state-sponsored cyber threats,” it said in a statement.

Russian actors and others are targeting critical infrastructure network operators as well as their operational and information technology, it added.

Operators should be prepared to isolate components and services that “would be considered attractive to a hostile threat actor to disrupt” and boost vigilance, CSE said.

Canada has had poor relations with Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ottawa fears armed conflict could break out in Ukraine and is working with allies to make clear to Russia that any further aggression towards Kiev is unacceptable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Canada adds jobs for fifth month in December -ADP

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Canada added 19,200 jobs in December, the fifth straight month of gains, led by hiring in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.

The November data was revised to show 102,100 jobs were created rather than an increase of 231,800. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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