Jennifer Smith, Daily Mail, September 15, 2021
Minnesota’s Supreme Court has overturned the murder conviction of rookie Minneapolis cop Mohamed Noor on a legal technicality and ordered his sentence to be reduced, four years after he shot dead Australian-American woman Justine Damond outside her home.
The court upheld Noor’s manslaughter conviction and ordered him to be resentenced, agreeing with his attorneys on a technicality that the specific wording of the ‘depraved mind’ murder charge he was convicted of.
He is currently two years into a 12.5 year sentence. It’s unclear how much his sentence will be lowered by, but it is likely to be less than the ten years he was facing.
Ten years is the maximum sentence for second degree manslaughter. There is no minimum.
Noor’s lawyers said he was scared when the 40-year-old yoga teacher appeared at the window of his squad car with a ‘thump’.
She had called 911 claiming to have heard a woman screaming in the alley beside her home. She feared it was a sexual assault and ran outside when the cop car arrived, approaching it from behind.
Noor pulled his trigger, killing her at the scene. He never testified, nor was he interviewed by police. The only information his attorneys gave was that he may have been scared of her – even though she was unarmed.
Ruszczyk had called the police on the night of July 15, 2017, after hearing a woman screaming near her home.
As she approached the police vehicle, Noor fired his gun at her from the passenger seat.
There is no bodycam of the actual shooting but there is of what happened next – when Noor’s partner told him to ‘keep his mouth shut’.
The Supreme Court justices ruled that the ‘depraved mind’ portion of the murder charge was not fitting.
His attorney focused on the legal wording of the ‘depraved mind’ section of the charge, which specifies he was acting in a way that put ‘others’ in danger.
His attorneys claimed that he wasn’t, because he was a cop and doing his duty.
‘Noor was carrying out his duties as an officer, acted in a split second and directed his actions at a specific person out of fear that his partner’s life was in danger from an ambush,’ he said.
The Supreme Court judges agreed. The victim’s family have not yet reacted to the court’s decision.
In their defense of him at trial, Noor’s attorneys said he was just doing his job.
‘Mr Noor reacted to a dark alley in the middle of the night, a thump on the squad, a voice, a body appearing at the driver’s side window, the startled announcement of fear by Officer Harrity as he reached for his firearm, and his observation that the person in the window was raising their right arm.
‘A prison sentence only punishes Mr. Noor for a culture that he didn’t create and, by all accounts, a culture that he would have liked to see change himself.
‘What really caused this (tragedy) is the fear that continues to permeate our society.
‘The police are afraid of the people, the people are afraid of the police,’ attorney Thomas Blunkett said.
Damond’s family won a $20million settlement from The City of Minneapolis after filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Her fiance, Don Damond, last year condemned the Minneapolis Police Department for not doing more to change the culture within the department after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin.
‘Other than body camera policy, can you point to what has changed? Can you point to anything that has changed? I can’t,’ he said in an interview last year.