The former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman after calling emergency services to report a possible rape that occurred outside her home will be sentenced to a lighter charge Thursday after his murder conviction was canceled in a case that attracted worldwide attention and was fraught with serious consequences. a question of race.
Mohamed Noor was originally convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter in the July 2017 murder of Justine Ruschik Damond, a 40-year-old U.S. and Australian citizen and yoga teacher who was engaged.
At his 2019 trial, Noor testified that he and his partner were driving slowly down an alley when a loud bang on his police SUV made him fear for their lives. He said he saw a woman appear at a partner’s window and raised her right hand before he fired from the passenger seat to stop what he saw as a threat.
He was sentenced to 12 and a half years on murder charges and spent most of his time in an out-of-state institution. But last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned Noor’s conviction and conviction, saying the third-degree murder law was inconsistent with the facts of the case.
Noor remains convicted of second-degree manslaughter, which carries a sentence of 41 to 57 months with an estimated sentence of four years in accordance with state guidelines.
His lawyers, Tom Plunkett and Peter Wald, requested a 41-month sentence, saying the lower end of the range would reflect Noor’s good behavior behind bars and the harsh conditions he faced for months in isolation from the general prison population. Legal experts expect prosecutors to pursue a high-level sentence.
Nur, who was fired after being charged, has already served more than 29 months. In Minnesota, well-behaved defendants usually serve two-thirds of their prison sentences, with the remainder released under supervision. If Noor receives an estimated four years for manslaughter, he could be eligible for a supervised release around the end of this year.
If the judge agrees with the defense and sentences Noor to 41 months, he could very soon be released under supervision.
Marsh Halberg, a Minneapolis attorney unrelated to the case, predicted that Judge Catherine Quintens would sentence Noor to four years. However, he said: “It would have been more correct to give him a lower limit … because he was alone.”
Noor has the right to make a statement at Thursday’s hearing, although it was not immediately clear whether he would do so. When sentenced on June 7, 2019, he was flustered, expressing regret for what he had done and apologizing to the Damonde family.
“I caused this tragedy and this is my burden,” he said then, adding: “I cannot apologize enough and I can never make up for the loss that I caused to Miss Ruschik’s family.”
Victims are expected to make statements. Prosecutors say Damonda’s family members who came from Australia to attend the 2019 trial will not appear in person, but may appear live via video.
Damonde’s death angered the citizens of the United States and Australia and led to the resignation of the Chief of Police of Minneapolis. This also led the department to change its body camera policy; Noor and his partner had no activation when they investigated Damonde’s emergency call.
Noor, an American from Somalia, is believed to be the first Minnesota officer to be convicted of murder while on duty. Activists, who have long called for officers to be held accountable for the use of fatal force, welcomed the murder conviction, but complained that it was handed down when the officer was black and the victim was white. Some doubted that the case was treated in the same way as a police shooting involving black victims.
Days after Noor’s conviction, Minneapolis agreed to pay $ 20 million to the Damonde family. It was believed to be the largest settlement ever to emerge from police violence in Minnesota at the time, and Mayor Jacob Frey cited Noor’s unprecedented conviction in this large settlement.
But the state Supreme Court ultimately ruled that a murder conviction was inconsistent with the evidence, stating that third-degree murder can only be used when the defendant demonstrates “a general indifference to human life,” and not when the behavior is directed against a specific person. as it was with Damond.
This decision devastated those close to Damonde. Her fiancé, Don Damonde – she used his last name despite the fact that their wedding was a month later when she was killed – said during the ruling: “None of this can hurt my heart more than it did before but now it really seems to me that there was no justice for Justine. “
But others said it was the right decision.
“It should never have been admitted to trial on (murder) charges,” Halberg said. “It might seem nice to charge this kind of charge because it sounds like you are more zealous as a prosecutor, but the law doesn’t fit.”
In the aftermath of Noor’s case, another former Minnesota officer was convicted of murder. Derek Choven was convicted in April of second degree manslaughter, third degree murder and manslaughter on May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was killed. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison on charges of second-degree murder. His third-degree murder conviction is likely to be overturned given Noor’s ruling, but the second-degree conviction is expected to remain in effect, legal experts say.
Minneapolis reached a $ 27 million settlement with the Floyd family.