Mohamed Noor, the ex-Minneapolis police officer who shot an Australian tourist in 2017, could soon be released from prison. According to the Star Tribune, on Sept. 15, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned his third-degree murder conviction.
The ex-officer was convicted and sentenced to 12.5 years for third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Noor and his partner were responding to a 911 call about a possible rape when Damond approached the driver’s side of the police vehicle.
Thinking his partner was under threat, Noor shot Damond from the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote the unanimous ruling, which stated that the legal standard of a depraved mind, defined as a generalized indifference to human life, was not proven in Noor’s case.
The court ruled that it was reasonable to infer that Noor’s conduct was directed solely at Damond, which meant that there was insufficient evidence to prove “depraved-mind murder.”
“The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the circumstances proved is that appellant’s conduct was directed with particularity at the person who was killed, and theevidence is therefore insufficient to sustain his conviction … for depraved-mind murder.”
“We may very well agree that Noor’s decision to shoot a deadly weapon simply because he was startled was disproportionate and unreasonable,” wrote Gildea. “Noor’s conduct is especially troubling given the trust that citizens should be able to place in our peace officers. But the tragic circumstances of this case do not change the fact that Noor’s conduct was directed with particularity toward Ruszczyk.”
Noor has been in prison since 2019, and the Supreme Court’s ruling could remove eight years from his sentence. The former police officer will go back to court to be re-sentenced for second-degree manslaughter. Depending on his conviction and time served, he could be released in just over three months.
The Somalian immigrant was the first police officer in the state ever to be convicted of murder for a fatal police-involved on-duty shooting. Hennepin County Attorney prosecutor Mike Freeman prosecuted Noor during his trial and promised to seek the maximum penalty, which is ten years.
As of yet, no court date has been scheduled for Noor’s sentencing.