ST PAUL, Minn. — Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor plans to ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review a Court of Appeals decision upholding his third-degree murder conviction in the shooting death of a south Minneapolis woman in 2017.
Noor was on patrol in July of that year when he shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond in an alley behind her home. The victim had called police after hearing what she thought was a woman being attacked. She approached the squad car and Noor shot her, saying he thought his life was in danger.
Ruszczyk Damond was unarmed, and an investigation into the incident led to charges against then-officer Noor.
A jury convicted Noor of both third-degree murder and manslaughter, and he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. His legal team appealed the murder conviction, arguing that evidence presented by the state was insufficient to support the decision, and that the state's case did not prove "his use of deadly force was not authorized by statute."
Noor's team also argued that the district court violated his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, violated his due-process right to explain his conduct, and abused its discretion by admitting "cumulative expert-witness testimony."
Judge Michelle Larkin ruled that the evidence presented at Noor's trial was sufficient to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Noor committed third-degree murder under Minnesota statute "even though his death-causing act was directed at a single person and the result of a split-second decision."
Larkin also ruled that evidence presented by the state was also sufficient to disprove Noor’s actions amounted to a justified use of force by a peace officer. "And because Noor does not establish a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial or his right to due process, or other trial error, he is not entitled to a new trial," Larkin wrote in her decision.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's Office provided a statement Monday agreeing with the decision made in today's Court of Appeals, saying it reaffirmed that the conviction was appropriate.
The statement said in part:
Successful prosecutions of police officers’ unlawful use of deadly force are rare in the (United States). The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office charged this case because of Officer Noor’s outrageous conduct. We were criticized for bringing that charge. But our prosecutors did remarkable work and the jury agreed and found him guilty. Now the Minnesota Court of Appeals has supported our legal theory as well.
Noor's attorneys released a statement Monday saying they will ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the decision.
The statement read in full, "We respectfully disagree with the majority’s opinion published today in Mr. Noor’s appeal. The split decision, while disappointing, is not entirely disheartening. The dissenting opinion raises compelling issues. In the coming weeks, we will ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to review this important matter."