A former US police officer who allegedly shot dead an unarmed Australian woman in her pajamas is set to face trial on murder charges.
Mohamed Noor will appear in court next April charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Ms Damond, 40, was killed as she approached Mr Noor’s police car in 2017, with the police officer reaching over his partner and firing the fatal bullet.
Mohamed Noor (pictured) will appear in court next April charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond
Mr Noor’s (centre) legal team (left and right) appeared in court on Thursday to appeal the scheduled court date, but their attempts to have the case thrown out were rejected
The former police officer’s legal team appeared in court on Thursday to appeal the scheduled court date, but their attempts to have the case thrown out were rejected.
Mr Noor’s attorney’s argued that his actions were reasonable, but the prosecution disagreed, saying the former police officer’s actions were reckless.
District Court Judge Kathryn Quaintance ruled there was probable cause to charge Noor with one county of murder in the third degree and manslaughter in the second.
‘What was in the defendant’s mind at the time of the incident can only be inferred at this point,’ she said in court, StarTribune reported.
‘There is, however, sufficient evidence from which the state could argue that Mr Noor fired without knowing what or who was outside the police cruiser,’ she said, according to AAP.
She added: ‘Defendant either saw and fired at what he believed was a person, or he fired into the darkness at an unknown target.’
Justine Ruszczyk Damond (pictured) was killed as she approached Mr Noor’s police car in 2017, with the police officer reaching over his partner and firing the fatal bullet
‘Under either scenario, the jury could find that his act was dangerous to human beings and was performed without regard for human life,’ Judge Quaintance said.
On the night of July 15, 2017, Ms Damond allegedly called police about midnight to report a possible sexual assault in an alleyway behind her Minneapolis home.
When Mr Noor’s police car later responded to the call out, it’s understood Damond left her home and approached the car, after which she was fatally struck in the stomach.
Mr Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity told investigators the pair became ‘spooked’ after they heard a voice and thump on the back of their car,’ 9News reported.
The prosecution said Mr Noor’s (pictured) actions on the night reflected a pattern of behaviour that dated back to his hiring
Harrity said he feared for his life and drew his gun, but it was Mr Noor who allegedly fired at Damond, striking her in the stomach.
After the shooting, Mr Noor was fired from the police department in march, which was appealed by the police union but is still pending until the outcome of the trial.
Although Mr Noor’s lawyers sought to have his previous psychological reports quashed, Judge Quaintance declined to withhold the records, StarTribune reported.
The prosecution argued the shooting was the product of a ‘depraved mind, regardless of human life’ consistent with a man they say was unfit to be an officer.
They said Mr Noor’s actions on the night reflected a pattern of behaviour that dated back to his hiring, when a psychological assessment allegedly revealed red flags.
Mr Noor’s lawyers argued that the results could provide an incomplete picture of the former police officer, but Judge Quaintance ruled there was no legal precedent for sealing the records.
A trial date has been set for April 1 in Minneapolis.