Mohamed Noor guilty of murder, manslaughter in death of Justine Damond

The 10-person jury began deliberations Monday afternoon.
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Mohamed Noor

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor has been found guilty of 3rd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Justine Damond.

Noor, 33, was acquitted of another charge of 2nd-degree murder with intent in the killing of the 40-year-old Australian native in southwest Minneapolis on July 15, 2017. He will be sentenced on June 7 at 9 a.m. 

The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, although Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the presumptive sentence for the murder conviction will be 12 1/2 years, in addition to four years for manslaughter. It's likely that the sentences for each charge will be served simultaneously, Freeman said. 

“It does not give us pleasure to call out police wrongdoing, but when it occurs it is our job to let the public know in extreme cases to bring charges and prosecution,” Freeman said. “Today over the last year we’ve done our job and done it well. This is a solid jury verdict and we believe it will be upheld on appeal.”

Trial leads to conviction

Noor had pleaded not guilty to all three charges, claiming he acted in self-defense on the night of the shooting.

The trial came to a close Monday with closing arguments from the prosecution and defense, which came after Noor took the stand last Thursday and Friday to speak for the first time about the night he shot Damond in the Fulton neighborhood of Minneapolis. 

Damond called police to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home, and both Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity testified during the trial that they heard a "thump" on their vehicle prior to the shooting.

Harrity testified that he saw a silhouette and feared an ambush in the alleyway where Noor pulled the trigger, with Noor saying he took a "split-second" decision, believing they were under a threat. 

After realizing who he'd shot, Noor said that he felt like his "whole world came crashing down," according to the Star Tribune, which notes that Noor's defense team argued that the bang on the officers' squad car was sufficient to cause the pair to fear for their lives.

The prosecution, however, interviewed use of force experts, who criticized Noor's decision to pull the trigger and said that no officer should have reasonably believed there was a threat.

Minneapolis police chief responds

Chief Medaria Arradando issued a response less than an hour after the jury's decision was revealed. Here it is in full. 

"I’ve just been made aware that the jurors presiding over the former MPD Officer Noor trial have reached a verdict and their decision is guilty on the charge of Murder in the Third Degree and guilty of Manslaughter in the Second Degree. I respect the verdict rendered.

I want to extend my sincere apologies to the family and friends of Justine Damond Ruszcyzk. This was indeed a sad and tragic incident that has affected family, friends, neighbors, the City of Minneapolis and people around the world, most significantly in her home country of Australia.

I want to acknowledge the important role and work of the criminal justice agencies who were involved in this case including the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

As Chief, I will ensure that the MPD learns from this case and we will be in spaces to listen, learn and do all we can to help our communities in healing. Moving forward, I remain committed to all communities the MPD has taken an oath to serve by continuing to build trust by focusing on our procedural justice efforts. Through collaboration and partnerships with all of our stakeholders, I am hopeful that we will strengthen our community wellness and safety."

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