Minneapolis, MN – After listening to victim impact statements made by Justine Ruszczyk Damond’s family members, a judge resentenced former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor to 57 months for manslaughter on Thursday morning.
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 in the alley behind her home after she called 911 to report a crime.
But on Sept. 15, 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.
He had been sentenced to 12-and-a-half years for the murder conviction in June of 2019.
The former Minneapolis police officer has already served 28 months of his sentence, the Associated Press reported.
If the lower court gives him the presumptive four-year sentence for the second-degree manslaughter conviction, Noor would be eligible for supervised release before the end of this year.
Noor’s team initially appealed the murder conviction to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in February and that court upheld it, KARE reported.
Then Noor’s team filed a petition for review to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the justices took up the case.
Noor’s attorney, Caitlinrose Fisher, argued to the state’s highest court in June that the “depraved mind” element of a third-degree murder conviction required that the “eminently dangerous” act is not directed a particular person, KARE reported.
Court documents showed Fisher argued that the Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld that requirement for more than a century and in 20 separate decisions, and therefore should not override its own precedent.
“This has been and is intended to be a narrow crime,” she said. “When we’re talking about treating an unintentional death as a murder, that is a narrow class of cases.”
The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed and overturned Noor’s murder conviction, KARE reported.
Noor’s attorneys have not asked for his manslaughter conviction to be overturned.
On Oct. 21, prosecutors asked Hennepin County District Court Judge Kathryn Quaintance to resentence the former police officer to the 57 months, the maximum possible sentence, KARE reported.
The judge said sentencing guidelines called for Noor to receive a sentence of 41 to 57 months in prison.
Defense attorneys argued that the judge should show more leniency because Noor was a Somali immigrant who managed to get a college degree and then used it to give back to his community and repay the opportunities his family had received in the United States.
The defense said Noor has become a standout, award-winning prisoner who is trying to improve the lives of those he is incarcerated with.
His attorney said sentencing the former police officer on the lower threshold would help to rebuild the city’s relationship with its Somali community.
“I just want to say that I’m deeply grateful for Mr. Damond’s forgiveness,” Noor told the courtroom. “I’m deeply sorry for the pain that I’ve caused that family. And I will take his advice and be a unifier.”
But the judge said although she was not surprised that Noor was a model prisoner, good behavior during incarceration was not grounds for reducing his sentence for manslaughter.
Quaintance said there would be no departure from the sentencing guidelines because neither side had requested it.
“You did shoot across the nose of your partner,” the judge told Noor. “You did endanger a bicyclist and residents of a community of surrounding houses on a summer Saturday evening… these factors of endangering the public make your crime of manslaughter appropriate for high end of the guidelines.”
She sentenced Noor to 57 months, or four years and nine months, in prison and gave him credit for the 908 days he has already served.