Former Somali-American Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor was on Tuesday found guilty of third-degree murder and manslaughter by a jury for shooting and killing a white woman who called to report a possible sexual assault around her house in 2017.
Noor, who responded to the incident with his partner, in his defense, claimed he fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk, an Australian who moved to Minneapolis to be with her fiancé, because he feared for his partner’s life and thought they were being ambushed when Ruszczyk came close to their squad car which was parked in an isolated alley, reports CNN.
With his sentencing set for June 7, Noor, who was subsequently handcuffed and taken into custody is the first police officer in Minnesota to be convicted of an on-duty shooting. Though the jury acquitted him of second-degree murder, Noor faces up to 12 and a half years imprisonment for the third-degree murder conviction and four years for the manslaughter conviction, CNN further reports.
With Ruszczyk’s fiancé, family and friends welcoming the verdict, Noor’s family took issue with how he was treated after the shooting and during the trial.
“I’m crying because of how the case was handled,” said his cousin, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “What happened was injustice. This is shocking. My cousin didn’t get a fair trial.”
Albeit it’s rare for on-duty police officers to be convicted for shooting civilians, a section of people, while affirming Noor deserves to be punished have, however, raised eyebrows over how the entire case was handled and are questioning if it would have been a different thing altogether if Noor, a Somali-American was a white officer and the victim was black.
Comparing it to the Philando Castile case, where a jury acquitted Jeronimo Yanez, the white police officer who fatally shot him though he was unarmed, people are calling on authorities to handle cases of such nature without any racial bias whatsoever.
Responding to Noor’s conviction, the Somali American Police Association released a statement registering their displeasure with how the entire case was handled and suggested Noor was singled out because he is black.
“Officer Noor is the first police officer in Minnesota’s history to be convicted of murder while in the line of duty. SAPA believes the institutional prejudices against people of color, including officers of color, have heavily influenced the verdict of this case. The aggressive manner in which the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office went after Officer Noor reveals that there were other motives at play other than serving justice,” a part of the statement read.
“Officer Noor joined the police force to make a difference and reflect the community he serves. And while historically it has not been uncommon for minority officers to receive differential treatment, it is discouraging to see this treatment persist in 2019. SAPA fears the outcome of this case will have a devastating effect on police morale and make the recruitment of minority officers all the more difficult.”
Take a look at some reactions to Noor’s guilty verdict on social media below: