US police officer who shot woman found guilty of murder

Mohamed Noor said in court that he shot Ms Justine Damond to protect his partner because he had feared an ambush when responding to her emergency call.
Mohamed Noor said in court that he shot Ms Justine Damond to protect his partner because he had feared an ambush when responding to her emergency call.PHOTO: REUTERS

MINNEAPOLIS • A US police officer who shot dead a woman in 2017 has been found guilty of murder by a Minneapolis jury.

Mohamed Noor, 33, who was fired from the Midwestern city's police force, was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday.

He was acquitted of the most serious charge of second-degree murder with the intent to kill.

Noor testified in court that he shot Ms Justine Damond, an Australian who had moved to the United States, to protect his partner because he had feared an ambush when responding to Ms Damond's emergency call.

But prosecutors insisted that the shooting was unreasonable and contrary to police training policy.

Noor targeted Ms Damond from the passenger seat of the police cruiser he was in with his partner, Mr Matthew Harrity.

The 40-year-old victim, a yoga instructor, had approached the cruiser after calling 911 twice to report a possible rape in the dark alley behind her home.

No such assault was ever found to have occurred.

Prosecutor Amy Sweasy countered that Noor violated Minneapolis police training policies and endangered the life of his partner and an eyewitness, a teenage cyclist.

"He pulled (the gun). He pointed, he aimed and he killed her," Ms Sweasy said. "This is no accident. This is intentional murder."

Defence attorney Peter Wold told jurors the former officer was heartbroken over the shooting.

Noor testified that he believed there was an imminent threat after he saw a cyclist stop near the police cruiser, heard a loud bang and saw Mr Harrity's "reaction to the person on the driver's side raising her right arm". He said that when he reached from the cruiser's passenger seat and shot Ms Damond, it was because he thought his partner "would have been killed".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'US police officer who shot woman found guilty of murder'. Print Edition | Subscribe