Ex-US police officer sentenced to 12.5 years over shooting of Australian woman

Justine Damond fatally shot after she called police to report a possible sexual assault

Former police office Mohamed Noor walks to the podium to be sentenced  at the Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Friday. Photograph: Leila Navidi/AFP/Getty Images

Former police office Mohamed Noor walks to the podium to be sentenced at the Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Friday. Photograph: Leila Navidi/AFP/Getty Images

 

A former Minneapolis police officer was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison on Friday for the fatal shooting of an Australian woman nearly two years ago after she had called police to report a possible sexual assault.

Mohamed Noor (33) was found guilty on April 30th of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for killing 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond outside her home in a case that drew international attention.

Before the sentencing, Noor made a tearful apology to Ms Damond’s family and described how the fear that led him to pull the trigger turned to horror upon seeing what he had done.

“I apologise for taking the life of a perfect person who was so dear to them,” he said. “I caused this tragedy and it is my burden.”

Noor’s lawyers had asked the court for a sentence of probation, or at most, a prison term of a year and a day, citing his community service and his cooperation with the investigation.

But Minnesota district judge Kathryn Quaintance rejected the plea for leniency, saying that while Noor had shown remorse for the consequences of his decision, he had not taken responsibility for his error in judgment during the shooting.

“The law does not allow license because someone is a good person,” Judge Quaintance said in passing the a sentence before a hushed courtroom. “Good people sometimes do bad things.”

Noor, who has been in custody since his conviction, was led out of the courtroom with a grave expression on his face.

The fatal shooting of 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond drew international attention. Photograph: Stephen Govel/AP
The fatal shooting of 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond drew international attention. Photograph: Stephen Govel/AP

The case was one of a series of highly publicised police killings in recent years. In many of them, the victims were black men or teenagers, but in this case, Ms Damond was white and Noor is a black Somali immigrant.

Several of Noor’s friends and family members, most of them Somali, gathered in the courthouse lobby afterward to protest the sentence.

The court also heard from six of Ms Damond’s friends and relatives, who read statements detailing the mental anguish and fear of the police they felt since her death.

“I now have more anxiety when I see humans giving the oath to protect and serve,” said Zach Damond, her stepson.

Noor, the first Minnesota police officer to be convicted of murder, and his partner drove to Ms Damond’s home the night of July 15th, 2017, to respond to a report she had made of a possible sexual assault. When Ms Damond approached the patrol car, Noor fired through the car window, killing her.

Noor testified that he shot her in self-defence after he and his partner were startled by a loud noise.

Last month, Minneapolis city officials agreed to pay $20 million (€17.6 million) to settle a civil suit brought by Ms Damond’s family. –Reuters