The former Somali-American Minneapolis cop, who was convicted of fatally shooting a woman after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault, had his sentence reduced from 12 and a half years to 57 months on Thursday.
Mohamed Noor was initially serving time for third-degree murder and manslaughter after he was found guilty of killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an Australian-American yoga teacher. But Noor’s 2019 third-degree murder conviction was reversed by Minnesota’s Supreme Court in September, Face2Face Africa reported.
The state’s Supreme Court wrote that the mental state that forms the basis for a depraved-mind murder or a third-degree murder “is a generalized indifference to human life” that is impossible to exist when the defendant’s actions are “directed with particularity at the person who is killed,” – as in the case of Damond, CBS Minnesota reported at the time.
The 57 months Noor received is the maximum sentence for a manslaughter offense in the state, per the Associated Press. Noor’s lawyers had wanted Judge Kathryn Quaintance to hand the Somali-American a 41-month sentence. Quaintance, however, ruled in favor of the prosecutors’ request for a maximum sentence.
Noor’s resentencing means he could be released as early as June 2022 if he doesn’t get into any trouble. “Mr. Noor, I am not surprised that you have been a model prisoner,” Quaintance said. “However, I do not know any authority that would make that grounds for reducing your sentence.” Quaintance also made mention of Noor “shooting across the nose of your partner” and putting the lives of other people in danger during the fatal incident as the basis for handing out the maximum sentence.
She added that because Noor’s lawyers and prosecutors did not request for a sentence that isn’t prescribed by the state, she couldn’t move away from those guidelines.
Noor was found guilty of third-degree murder and manslaughter by a jury for shooting and killing Damond in 2017. The deceased White woman had called police to report a possible sexual assault around her house in 2017. Noor and his partner responded to the scene.
During the trial, Noor spoke about the moment he shot the 40-year-old yoga teacher and life coach who was just a month away from her wedding when she was killed. “If I knew this would happen, I would never have become a cop,” Noor told the jury.
The former cop also claimed he opened fire because he feared his partner’s life could be in danger. He also said he thought they were being ambushed when Damond came close to their squad car which was parked in an isolated alley. Before the incident, city officials had celebrated Noor after he became the precinct’s first Somali-American police officer in a state with a large Somali population.
Until the Supreme Court’s decision, Noor was Minnesota’s first police officer to be convicted of murder while on duty. The other officer in the state’s history to be found guilty for an on-duty murder is Derek Chauvin – the former cop who was convicted this year of killing George Floyd, Star Tribune reported.
The ruling in September could give former Minneapolis cop Chauvin grounds to contest his own third-degree murder conviction for Floyd’s death, according to a report by The Guardian. “But that wouldn’t have much impact on Chauvin since he was also convicted of the more serious count of second-degree murder,” the report added.
In a statement, Damond’s parents requested Noor be handed the maximum sentence for his conviction. The deceased woman’s parents said their daughter’s death was “utterly gratuitous”, the Associated Press reported. They also said the reversal of Noor’s third-degree murder conviction did not change the jury’s stance on Noor committing the offence.
And though Damond’s fiancé was also critical of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the third-degree murder conviction, he said he had forgiven Noor for his “inability in managing your emotions that night.”
The convicted ex-cop also addressed the court, saying, “I’m deeply grateful for Mr. Damond’s forgiveness. I am deeply sorry for the pain that I’ve caused that family. And I will take his advice and be a unifier. Thank you.”
Following the sentencing, however, Noor’s father, Mohamed Abass, called out the judge, saying she was “the worst judge in Minnesota” and “very hateful.” “This judge hates (the) Somali community,” Abass said, adding that he believed race played a role in the judge’s decision to hand Noor the maximum sentence.
Damond’s family in 2019 reached a $20 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis for her killing. That was the largest police settlement in the city’s history at the time.