MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in the case of Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of third-degree murder in the shooting death of an Australian woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home.
Noor’s attorneys argued that a divided Minnesota Court of Appeals failed to follow legal precedents defining third-degree murder when it affirmed Noor’s conviction.
The high court’s decision has repercussions for another high profile police killing case, the death of George Floyd. Besides second-degree murder, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was also convicted in April of third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter.
The judge overseeing Chauvin’s trial initially threw out the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, but later reinstated the count after the Court of Appeals in February affirmed Noor’s conviction for third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin faces sentencing on June 25. Prosecutors are seeking to add charges of aiding and abetting third-degree murder to the existing counts against three order ex-officers facing trial in Floyd’s death. All four former officers also face federal civil rights charges.
Noor was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual United States- (US) Australian citizen engaged to a Minneapolis man.
Noor testified that a loud bang on the squad car startled him and his partner, and that he reached across his partner from the passenger seat and fired through the driver’s window to protect his partner’s life.
But prosecutors criticised Noor for shooting without seeing a weapon or even Damond’s hands when she approached the car.