Ex-Minneapolis cop to be resentenced after reversed conviction

Former police officer Mohamed Noor is set for new sentencing hearing for shooting of unarmed 911 caller.

Mohamed Noor had apologised to Justine Ruszczyk Damond's family during his 2019 sentencing [File: Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP]

A former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman after a 911 call in 2017 is set to be resentenced after the US state of Minnesota’s top court tossed out the murder conviction against him.

Mohamed Noor, the ex-Minneapolis policeman, remains convicted of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond who had called the police to report hearing a possible rape happening behind her house.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for a revised sentence. He had been sentenced to 12.5 years in jail in 2019, but last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed his initial third-degree murder conviction saying that the murder charge did not apply to his actions.

Noor testified during his trial that he fired towards Damond, a 40-year-old US-Australian dual citizen, from the passenger seat of a police vehicle after hearing a loud noise that prompted him to fear for himself and his police partner.

The former officer’s lawyers are seeking a 41-month term for their client – the lower end of the manslaughter conviction carries. Prosecutors are expected to request the maximum of 57 months.

Noor has already served 29 months in jail. He could be eligible for early supervised release before completing his new sentence because of good behaviour.

Damond’s family has decried the overturning of the murder conviction against Noor.

“None of this can hurt my heart more than it has been, but now it truly feels like there has been no justice for Justine,” Don Damond, her fiance, said at the time of the ruling.

But Marsh Halberg, a Minneapolis defence lawyer not involved in the case, said Noor should not have been charged with murder after the shooting.

“It may feel good to charge something like that because it sounds like you are being more zealous as a prosecutor, but the law doesn’t fit,” Halberg was quoted as saying by The Associated Press news agency.

At his 2019 sentencing hearing, Noor apologised for the incident. “I can’t apologise enough and I will never be able to make up the loss that I caused to Miss Ruszczyk’s family,” he said.

The shooting had led to the resignation of Minneapolis’s police chief. It also ignited debates about race and policing in the US. Noor, who is Somali American, was believed to be the first Minnesota officer convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting. Damond was white.

Earlier this year, Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing George Floyd, a Black man, was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.

The killing of Floyd, who died after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes, sparked nationwide protests for police accountability and racial justice last year.

In March, Minneapolis agreed to pay $27m to Floyd’s family. In 2019, the city reached a $20m settlement with Damond’s family.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies