A black former Minneapolis police officer who gunned down an unarmed white woman was convicted of third-degree murder Tuesday (April 30), sparking debate over racal injustice involving police shootings. Mohamed Noor became the first police officer in Minnesota to be convicted of an on-duty murder.
According to the Associated Press, a diverse jury convicted Noor of third-degree murder and manslaughter, but acquitted him of intentional second-degree murder, for the 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, was shot to death after she called 911 to report a rape in the alley behind her house. Noor, a 33-year-old muslim immigrant from Somalia, was a two-year veteran of the force at the time of the shooting. He was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department after being charged for killing Damond.
Of the night in question, Noor testified that he and his partner, Matthew Harrity, were in their squad car when they heard a loud noise in the alley. Damond later appeared and banged on Harrity’s window. Noor alleged that he heard Harrity yell “Oh Jesus!” as he attempted to pull out his firearm.
Noor went on to claim that he shot and killed Damond to “stop the threat and save my partner’s life.” Both officers had their body cameras turned off during the shooting but turned them on after the fact.
The jury verdict, handed down after two days of deliberations, raises questions about Philando Castile’s murder during a 2016 traffic stop. Castile, a 32-year-old Minnesota school cafeteria worker, was shot and killed by St. Anthony police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, while reaching for his license and registration as the officer requested.
Castile was licensed to carry a weapon and informed the officer that he had a firearm. Yanez then pulled out his gun and began shooting Castile, as his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter sat in the car. Yanez claimed he feared for his life and was acquitted of two counts of second-degree manslaughter. A dozen people were killed by Minnesota cops in 2018, per the Washington Post’s national database. The state has also come under fire for its lack of transparency in police involved shootings.
Noor was taken into custody immediately after the verdict, despite his attorney requesting that he remain free until sentencing on June 7. He could spend up to 16 years in prison for both convictions.
After expressing condolences to the victim’s family, the Somali American Police Association released a statement noting that the “aggressive” prosecution proves underlying motives.
“The devastating circumstances surrounding this case have made a substantial impact on both Ruszczyk’s and Officer Mohamed Noor’s families,” the statement reads.
“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.”
See more reactions to the verdict below.
Mohamed Noor was found guilty for killing a white woman but the officer who murdered Philando Castile on Facebook live isn’t guilty? pic.twitter.com/3yuKRqm1P6
— Zeynab Omar (@alleyesonzey) April 30, 2019
Of course cops who kill should be treated like anyone else who kills. But isn’t it odd how a cop gets convicted when he is Mohamed Noor killing a white woman, yet somehow white cops killing black people are rarely convicted of anything, let alone murder. https://t.co/ihE6BUeVr8
— Mitchell Plitnick 🔥 (@MJPlitnick) April 30, 2019
I’m numbed out from all the confusing, defeated feelings about the conviction of Mohamed Noor. Of course the system holds a black immigrant cop accountable for killing a white woman. It’s like a Boolean script for systemic racism.
— Princess Sparklefists (@ProfBanks) April 30, 2019
Norris Greenhouse Jr.
Next time someone tells you that it’s TOO DIFFICULT TO CONVICT POLICE for killing someone just remember that EVERY time a Black cop kills an unarmed white person the courts are suddenly EASILY able to get a conviction.
— Black Authority (@TheBlackChannel) April 30, 2019
The Minnesota officer who killed Philando Castile was acquitted of all charges. https://t.co/DIWp18Y5oP
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 30, 2019