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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Mohamed Nour, former Minneapolis officer who killed 911 caller Justine Ruschik Damond, to be released


MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) — The former Minneapolis cop who shot and killed an unarmed woman who called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in an alleyway behind her home is due to be released from jail next week, months after his indictment the murder conviction was overturned and he was re-sentenced on a lesser charge.

Mohamed Noor, 36, is due to be released from custody on Monday, 18 days before the fifth anniversary of the July 15, 2017 shooting of Justine Ruschik Damond, a 40-year-old dual US-Australian citizen and yoga teacher. was engaged.

Noor was initially convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter, but last year the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned his murder conviction and 12.5-year sentence, saying the murder charge did not apply to the circumstances of the case. He was re-sentenced to four years and nine months on charges of manslaughter.

In Minnesota, a well-behaved defendant is expected to serve two-thirds of his sentence in prison and the remainder under supervision, commonly known as parole. The DOC website states that Nur will remain under surveillance until January 24, 2024.

Daymond’s father, John Ruszczyk, said on Friday the family was disappointed that Noor’s conviction for third-degree murder was overturned.

“His release after a trivial verdict demonstrates the utmost disrespect for the will of the jurors who represented the communities of Minneapolis and their desire to make a statement about community expectations regarding police behavior and actions,” Ruszczyk wrote in response to questions emailed to The Associated Press.

Daymond’s stepmother, Marian Heffernan, said in a phone interview that the timing of Noor’s release – so close to the anniversary of Daymond’s death – is painful.

“We are very disappointed. But we are not surprised. We watched the events in Minneapolis from afar and we are still baffled that the charge was dropped and we are still baffled by the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department,” Heffernan said, adding that she thought Noor was a product of “Very bad department.”

After his conviction, Noor began serving time at the Minnesota Maximum Security Prison in Oak Park Heights, but the Star Tribune reported that in July 2019 he was transferred to a facility in North Dakota for his own safety. Department of Corrections spokesman Nicholas Kimball said Noor was still out of state, but did not specify where.

“For security reasons, we are unable to provide more details than what is available on the public website, which is the scheduled release date,” Kimball said.

It was unclear if Noor would return to Minnesota. His lawyer, Tom Plunkett, declined to comment, saying, “At this point, I just want to respect Mr. Noor’s privacy.”

Damond’s murder angered US and Australian citizens and led to the resignation of the Minneapolis police chief. It also led the department to change its body camera policy; Noor and his partner did not have them activated when they investigated Daymond’s call to 911.

Noor testified at his trial in 2019 that he and his partner were driving slowly down an alley when the loud bang of their police SUV left him in fear for his life. He said he saw a woman appear in the partner’s driver’s side window and raise her right hand before he fired from the passenger seat to stop what he saw as a threat.

Daymond was a meditation teacher and life coach who was murdered about a month before her wedding. Her maiden name was Justine Ruszczyk, and although she was not yet married, she was already using her fiancé’s last name.

Her fiancé, Don Damond, declined to comment on Noor’s impending release, but said during Noor’s re-sentencing that he had forgiven the former officer and that he had no doubt that Justine would also have forgiven him “for your inability to control your emotions that night.” ”

Noor, a Somali-American, is believed to be the first Minnesota officer convicted of murder for on-duty shooting. Activists who have long held officers accountable for the deadly use of force have welcomed the murder conviction.

Following Noor’s conviction, former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, white, was found guilty of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, a black man, who was pinned to the pavement under Chauvin’s knee. Chauvin’s colleague, Thomas Lane, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting manslaughter, while two other officers are awaiting trial on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. All four were convicted on federal charges of violating Floyd’s rights.

In another case, former Brooklyn Center employee Kim Potter was found guilty of manslaughter after she said she mistook a stun gun for a gun when she fatally shot Donte Wright, a 20-year-old black motorist, during a traffic stop last year.

John Ruszczyk said in an email to the Associated Press that his family believes state investigators and the Minneapolis Police Department did not fully cooperate with his daughter’s murder investigation and he was concerned about the agency’s culture.

He said he believes the department accepts violence as a way to control difficult situations, which he said contributed to her death. He cited a recent State Department of Human Rights report that said the agency had engaged in racial discrimination for at least a decade, including more frequent use of force against people of color. Federal authorities are also investigating whether the department is involved in discrimination.

“How could officers take to the streets in the role of defenders of public safety and order with such an attitude to their duties and responsibilities that allows them to shoot first and ask questions later?” He wrote.

Within days of Noor’s conviction, Minneapolis agreed to pay $20 million to Daymond’s family, in what was at the time considered the largest settlement resulting from police violence in Minnesota. It was surpassed last year when Minneapolis agreed to a $27 million settlement for Floyd’s death when Chauvin went to trial.

Floyd’s murder brought retribution for police brutality and discrimination against people of color. The department is facing calls for more accountability, and the state is recommending several changes as it seeks a consent ruling. City leaders continue to debate how to change the system.

She said the family was told at trial that Daymond’s death would bring change, but when Floyd was killed, “we were absolutely shattered because nothing had changed. We felt that Justine’s death meant nothing… She was forgotten.”

But Heffernan said Damond is remembered by people in Australia and her family thinks of her every day. On the anniversary of her death, they calmly go to her favorite beach and throw pink flowers – her favorite color – into the surf when the sun rises.

She also said that once a month in the summer, her family sends flowers to the site of Daymond’s murder, as well as on her birthday and July 15, the day she died.

“She touched a lot of people’s hearts and I think it’s just amazing,” Heffernan said.


This story has been updated to correct Noor’s manslaughter count sentence of four years and nine months instead of 41 months.

World Nation News Desk
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