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The identity of the former Minneapolis police officer who was seen on video pepper-spraying a crowd of downtown protesters during the George Floyd unrest has been released, and it's emerged she received a $150,000 payout before she left the department.

The pepper-spraying incident was captured by Star Tribune reporter Jennifer Brooks, one of many high-profile moments that happened over the course of the riots and protests, racking up millions of views.

The video shows a convoy of squad cars passing through a crowd of protesters, with a cloud of pepper spray then emanating from the last car.

The police officer behind the spraying has now been revealed as Samantha Belcourt. 

court deposition conducted in May in Arizona as part of a lawsuit filed by protesters against the City of Minneapolis confirmed Belcourt as the sprayer. You can read it here, courtesy of independent journalist Tony Webster.

Belcourt was among the large number of officers who have left MPD following the riots and murder of Floyd by MPD officer Derek Chauvin, and city documents confirm she received a $150,000 workers' compensation settlement for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Minnesota Reformer's Deena Winter reports she also receives around $59,000 per year via pension payments.

The City of Minneapolis has also paid out millions of dollars to peaceful protesters and journalists injured by police officers over the course of the unrest, the most recent of which was a $600,000 payment to 12 protesters subjected to police brutality.

Per the deposition, Belcourt was asked about the incident at North 5th Street and Hennepin Avenue, she claimed she was responding with other officers to a scene where other law enforcement were allegedly being assaulted. She said that the crowd "was completely blocking the street" and that MPD officers needed to get through.

"The danger was extremely high at that situation," Belcourt recalled, claiming that the crowd was "very violent" at the time. She alleges that prior to their arrival at 5th and Hennepin, people were allegedly throwing large construction barrels at squad cars.

She noted in court that no one "specifically authorized or directed by anybody to use chemical irritant" at the time of the incident, but stated the use of it was up to her own discretion.

Belcourt said she wasn't spraying the mace at any specific individual and was "creating space" for the passing squad cars, even though her vehicle was the last in the convoy and other vehicles had already made their way through.

According to MPD policy, the use of less-than-lethal force is banned outside of using it to protect themselves and others from physical harm. When asked if she feared for her life at the time, she said she did, noting that it "was very scary."

"We could see the damage that... the angry crowd the previous three days had caused, whether it's vehicle damage, to people," Belcourt said. 

Disciplinary investigations involving police cease once the officer is no longer an employee, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. It's unknown if department officials would have disciplined Belcourt for her actions or not.

In an August interview with Alpha News, Belcourt said she now runs a frozen banana food truck in Arizona. She told Liz Collins, a former WCCO reporter who's married to ex-Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll, the ensuing unrest following Floyd's death made her and other officers feel unwanted.

Belcourt told Collins she worked as a K-9 officer for the Osceola Police Department in Wisconsin before she came to Minneapolis. She did not reveal herself to be the officer responsible for the pepper spraying during the Alpha News interview.

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