The former Minneapolis cop who shot and killed a woman who’d called the police to report a sexual assault is going to prison for 12 and a half years, a judge ruled Friday.
Mohamed Noor’s sentencing followed his April conviction for third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old life coach and yoga teacher. On the night of July 15, 2017, Damond called 911 twice to report a suspected sexual assault because she thought she heard a woman screaming for help in the alley near her home. Once the officers arrived, she approached the squad car of Noor, 33, and his partner, Matthew Harrity. Noor thought Damond posed a threat to his partner because he heard a loud thump on the side of the car and saw Damond with her arm raised. So he shot her, in the abdomen.
Neither Noor nor his partner had their body cameras turned on at the time of the shooting, which sparked outrage across the country and led to the city’s police chief, Janee Harteau, stepping down in July 2017. Their cameras turned on only after Noor shot her, capturing her saying “I’m dying.”
“My intent was to stop the threat and save my partner’s life,” Noor, a Somali immigrant, said during his trial, according to NBC News. “I felt like my whole world came crashing down.”
Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, asked for the full, recommended sentence — 12 and a half years — and said Friday his daughter’s death made it feel “as if I have lost a limb or a leg,” according to the Associated Press. Damond’s fiancé, Don Damond, said Friday that his “heart aches every day” for her.
Earlier this week, Noor’s attorneys asked that he be sentenced to jail for only two weeks a year: the week of the anniversary of Damond’s death in July, and the week of her birthday in April, according to KSTP-TV, an ABC affiliate in St. Paul, Minnesota. Noor’s attorneys had argued putting him in prison would make it difficult for him to make amends.
It’s rare for a police officer to face charges in an officer-involved shooting at all. Only 97 officers have been arrested for murder or manslaughter connected to an on-duty shooting since 2005, according to data compiled by Bowling Green University’s Police Integrity Research Group. Of those 97 officers, only 35 were convicted.
Cover: Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor reads a statement Friday, June 7, 2019, in Minneapolis, before being sentenced by Judge Kathryn Quaintance in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Noor, convicted of shooting an unarmed woman to death as she walked toward his cruiser, says he can't apologize enough "for taking the life of a perfect person. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)