Jury reaches verdict in officer’s trial for 911 caller death

The former American police officer Mohamed Noor is via the lift lobby of the Hennepin County Government Center with his legal team in Minneapolis on Friday 26 April 2019. (Leila Navidi/the Star Tribune via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS – Jurors reached a verdict Tuesday in the trial of a Minneapolis police officer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who approached his patrol car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape behind her house.

Mohamed Noor, was charged with two murders and one count of manslaughter in July 2017, the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond , a 40-year-old dual citizen of the V. S. and Australia.

Jurors deliberated about five hours Monday and six on Tuesday before making a decision. The ruling was expected to read about 5 pm CDT.

Noor and his partner were rolling down the alley behind Damond home and checking the 911 call just before the shooting. Noor testified that there was a loud bang on the patrol car scared his partner and that he saw a woman raising her arm to appear on his partner window. He said he fired to protect his partner’s life.

Prosecutors attacked Noor for the shoot without seeing a weapon or Damond hands. They have also questioned whether the loud bang was real. Neither Noor nor his partner, Matthew Harrity, mentioned to the researchers on the scene, with Harrity first mention of the three days later, in an interview with state investigators. Noor refused to talk with the researchers.

The death of Damond, a life coach who was engaged to be married, a month after the shooting, led to outrage in the US and Australia. Also the cost of Minneapolis’ police to her work, and has contributed to the electoral defeat of the mayor of the city a few months later.

Damond was white. Noor, 33, is a Somali American who was a police officer with a mid-career switch to employment in the business world. He testified that he was a police officer because he “wanted to serve,” and his hiring of two years for the shots was celebrated by Minneapolis leaders are eager for a more diversified police force in a city with a large population of Somali immigrants.

He was fired after he accused is.

Neither officer had a body camera running when Damond was shot, something Harrity the blame for what he called a vague policy that does not require. Both men switched on their cameras in time to capture the aftermath, which is her trying to save Damond CPR. But Noor is the bullet hit her in a key abdominal artery, and a medical examiner testified, she lost so much blood so quickly that even faster medical care would not have saved her.

Prosecutors prompted to ask questions about the way in which the police and the researchers processed the aftermath. They played clips from the body cameras worn by responding officers revealed that many officers are turning them on and off; an officer could be heard on his camera at one point to tell Noor “keep your mouth shut, until you have to say something against someone.” They have also highlighted the lack of forensic evidence to show Damond hit the squad car.

But the case still came down to the judges the assessment of the question of whether Norway was justified in the shooting, and they only had the officers’ testimony, for a picture of the most important moments. During his closing argument Monday, attorney Thomas Plunkett told members of the jury all that mattered was the “right time” in which Norwegian fired his gun and that they needed to consider whether Norway has acted as a reasonable officer would do in the same circumstances. Prosecutor Amy Sweasy argued the shooting was not justified.

In his public statement about the shooting, Noor testified that after he heard the loud sound, he saw the fear in Harrity’s eyes and heard that his partner shouts, “Oh Jesus!” as he went for his weapon. Noor said Harrity effort pulls his gun out of his holster. Noor said he saw a woman in a pink shirt with blonde hair appear on Harrity’s window, and raising her right arm.

“I fired a shot,” he said, later adding: “My intention was to stop the threat and save my partner’s life.”

Harrity was pressed by prosecutors about why he did not fire. He said that he had not assessed whether there was a threat by the time Noor dismissed. When Sweasy asked Harrity or it would have been premature for him to use deadly force, he said: “Yes, with what I had.”

Both officers have testified of their trust and regard for each other. Both cried at points during their testimony.

The jury included 10 men and two women. Six of the jurors, including two women, are people of color.

If convicted, the other sentences range from four years for the manslaughter charge to 12½ years for the third degree murder to 25½ years for second degree murder.


Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter:


Check out the AP’s complete coverage of Mohamed Noor download the trial version:

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular