Court Overturns Ex-Minneapolis Officer’s Murder Conviction in 2017 Shooting

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Mohamed Noor’s murder conviction stands, and he will be outraged on that count in the death of Justin Ruszczyk.

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Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who killed a woman in 2017 who called for help at her home, was struck down Wednesday by the Minnesota Supreme Court for his third-degree murder sentence, a A sudden turnaround in the case that attracted international attention .

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Mr Noor, who is currently serving a 12-and-a-half year prison sentence for the murder of Justin Ruszczyk, will be outraged on a less serious count of second-degree murder.

Mr Noor’s conviction, in an on-duty fatal shooting for the first time in decades for a Minnesota officer, was held at the time as a rare instance of a police officer being punished for a serious crime committed in the line of duty. it was done. . The decision to overturn it was seen as a setback for activists who insisted on significant changes in policing and underscored the difficulties of prosecuting and convicting police officers for on-duty shootings.

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The 28-page opinion by Minnesota’s Supreme Court focused on the details of the “perverted-minded” murder statute to which Mr. Noor was convicted, and whether his actions might fit the definition of a crime if he was convicted of one of the crimes. was targeting the individual. The jurors acquitted Mr. Noor of the more serious second-degree murder charge. Murder of the second degree, a conviction for which Mr. Noor will be offended, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, or with fine.

The Supreme Court judges wrote in their opinion, “We can very well agree that Noor’s decision to fire a deadly weapon simply because he was shocked, was unfair and unwarranted.” “What is particularly disturbing is Noor’s conduct, the belief that civilians should be able to place among our peace officers. But the tragic circumstances of the case do not change the fact that Noor’s conduct was directed specifically towards Ruszczyk. “

Ms. Ruszczyk, 40, a yoga instructor who had spent most of her life in Australia, called 911 twice on one summer night four years ago and asked for help at her home in the southwest Minneapolis neighborhood. She had reported hearing a strange noise in the back of her house – possibly a woman screaming or sexually assaulting her, she said – and wanted the police to investigate it.

Mr. Noor and his accomplice were sent to the area for investigation. Testimony at Mr Noor’s trial suggested that Ms Ruszczyk went out into the dark alley to talk to the officers, and startled them.

Sitting in his police cruiser, Mr. Noor fired a fatal shot at her chest. Ms. Ruszczyk, also known as Justin Daimond, was unarmed and wearing pyjamas.

Mr Noor’s lawyer Thomas Plunkett did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the county prosecutor in Minneapolis said the office planned to comment later on Wednesday.

Mr. Noor’s case was closely followed in Minneapolis’s vast Somali-American community. Mr Noor was the first officer of Somali heritage in his police complex, and his appointment was celebrated by the mayor at the time. Before and during Mr Noor’s trial, some members of the Somali community said they believed Mr Noor was being treated differently than a white officer. Ms. Ruszczyk was white.

in one Interview With a local news station in 2020, Ms Raszczyk’s fiancé, Don Dammond, said that three years after her death, he was disappointed by the lack of major changes in the Minneapolis Police Department and still expected more attention to police methods. will be given. Officers can be trained to defuse situations.

Mr. Dammond walked out of the couple’s house, looking for a view of the street where his death was traumatic.

Ms Ruszczyk’s death drew attention to the shortcomings of the Minneapolis Police Department, nearly three years before another Minneapolis officer, Derek Chauvin, killed George Floyd in an incident that sparked protests and civil unrest across the city and country. was given.

After Ms. Ruszczyk’s death, protesters called for a major overhaul of the police department, the police chief was fired from his job, and the city agreed to pay $20 million to settle a civil case. But mistrust and misconduct persisted, and the department, which has seen an exodus of officers since Mr Floyd’s death, is now being investigated by the Justice Department.

Unlike Mr Noor, Mr Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, a charge that was not an issue in the opinion of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Mr Chauvin is serving a 22.5-year prison sentence for Mr Floyd’s death and, along with other officers at the scene, await trial on federal charges.

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