Minneapolis, MN – The former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond in the alley behind her house after she called 911 was released from prison on Monday morning.
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April of 2019 for the 2017 fatal shooting of the Australian yoga teacher and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison.
On appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the third-degree murder conviction and Noor’s case was kicked back to the district court for resentencing on the manslaughter conviction, the Associated Press reported.
The court’s ruling said that Noor’s actions were directed “with particularity,” and therefore did not meet the “depraved-mind” requirement for third-degree murder, KARE reported.
A Hennepin County judge resentenced Noor to 57 months in October of 2021.
He had already served 28 months of his earlier sentence by that point, according to the Associated Press.
Noor served part of his sentence in state’s maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights, but was transferred to a prison facility in North Dakota in 2019 for safety reasons, CBS News reported.
He was transferred back to an undisclosed facility in Minnesota last week ahead of his planned release.
Noor was released from the custody of the prison system on June 27, KMSP reported.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections website said that Noor would be on supervised release until Jan. 24, 2024, CBS News reported.
Minneapolis councilmembers approved a $20 million settlement for Damond’s family in 2019, three days after the former police officer was convicted.
The now-infamous shooting of an Australian woman who called police to report a suspected crime in the alley behind her house occurred when 32-year-old Officer Noor and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, responded to Damond’s 911 call, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
With Officer Noor in the passenger seat, Officer Harrity pulled into the alleyway behind Damond’s house with the patrol car’s headlights deactivated and removed the safety hood from the holster of his duty weapon.
He said that he heard a dog barking as he neared Damond’s home, and that he slowed the vehicle to two miles per hour, but never stopped.
Approximately two minutes later, the officers approached the end of the alley, and waited for a bicyclist to pass as they cleared from the call.
Officer Harrity said that moments later, he heard a voice and a thump towards the rear of the patrol car, and then “caught a glimpse of a person’s head and shoulders outside his window.”
He said that the person, later identified as Damond, was approximately two feet away, and that he could not see her hands, and did not know if she had any weapons.
The startled officer recalled having said, “Oh s**t,” or “Oh Jesus,” and grabbed for his duty weapon, believing his life was in danger. He said he drew the weapon and held it to his rib cage, pointed downwards.
Officer Harrity said that he then heard a noise “that sounded like a light bulb dropping on the floor and saw a flash.”
After checking to see if he had been shot, Officer Harrity said he realized that Officer Noor’s right arm was extended towards him, and that Damond was standing outside the driver’s side window with her hands on the left side of her abdomen, covering a gunshot wound.
She said, “‘I’m dying,’ or ‘I’m dead,’” according to the court documents.
Officer Harrity rushed to her aid and told Officer Noor to re-holster his weapon and to activate his bodycam.
He initiated CPR, and Officer Noor eventually took over. Damond died at the scene.
At trial, Officer Noor claimed he had no other choice but to shoot Damond, and that he did not need to wait to see a weapon in order to respond with deadly force.
Officers can use deadly force before they see a weapon, but only if a reasonable officer in that same situation would have believed that the suspect posed a deadly threat.
Noor offered no reasonable explanation for why he thought Damond was a threat at all.
Officer Harrity testified at trial that he was also spooked by the loud noise, but use of deadly force was premature.