Mohamed Noor, 35, was sentenced Thursday to the maximum possible prison term. His lawyers had requested the minimum 41 months available under the sentencing guidelines, arguing that the former officer had been a “model prisoner”.
Noor was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison in 2019 for his role in the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, who called the police to report hearing a possible rape taking place behind her house.
In her decision, Minnesota District Judge Kathryn Quaintance noted that Noor shot her partner “in the nose” in the police car on the night of July 15, 2017, while residents of a nearby house entertained themselves on their porch. Noor shot Damond, a dual US-Australian citizen, from the passenger seat as she approached the police vehicle, killing her.
“These public endangering factors make your crime of manslaughter appropriate for the high end of the guidelines,” the judge told Noor. He had been working for less than two years when the shooting occurred.
Noor testified during his trial that he shot Damond from the passenger seat of the vehicle after hearing a loud noise that made him fear for himself and his police partner.
State investigators said Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, did not turn on their body cameras on the night of the murder and that police car video did not capture the shooting.
In 2019, a jury acquitted Noor of second degree murder, but found him guilty of third degree “depraved mind murder” and second degree manslaughter.
The murder led Damond’s family to file a lawsuit against Noor and the city of Minneapolis, who ultimately agreed to pay a settlement worth $ 20 million.
The shooting resulted in the resignation of the Minneapolis police chief. It also sparked debates about race and the police in the United States. Noor, who is of Somali descent, is said to be Minnesota’s first officer convicted of murder over a shooting while on duty. Damond was white.
Noor had already spent around 2.5 years in prison when he was sentenced on Thursday.
Judge Quaintance, who imposed the original sentence in June 2019, dismissed Noor’s good behavior criminal record as a ground for reduced sentence.
At his sentencing hearing in 2019, Noor apologized for the incident. “I cannot apologize enough and I will never be able to make amends for the loss I have caused to Miss Ruszczyk’s family,” he said.
Under current sentencing rules, Noor could be released on probation by the middle of next year if he maintains good behavior.