US Officer Denied Plea Deal Over Murder Of Justine Damond

The Minneapolis police officer who shot Australian Justine Damond has appeared in court and will be denied a plea bargain.

What you need to know
  • Prosecutors say they are not willing to offer former US police officer Mohamad Noor a plea deal
  • Noor shot and killed Australian woman Justine Damond in July last year
  • She had called police because she thought she heard someone being sexually assaulted in an alley near her home

Prosecutors in Minneapolis have said they are not willing to offer former US police officer Mohamad Noor a plea deal and will press forward with murder charges over the death of Australian Justine Damond.

Noor, 33, fatally shot Damond, 40, minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home in Minnesota last July.

He is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

During a brief court appearance, Noor did not speak and prosecutors revealed they were providing evidence to the defence as part of pre-trial procedures.

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was silent in court and looked serious as he arrived at Hennepin County Government Center. Image credit: AP

Wearing a blue suit and shirt, he was supported by members of his extended family for the quick hearing.

The date of his next court appearance will be confirmed in coming days.

Noor’s lawyer Thomas Plunkett has filed court documents indicating that Noor will plead not guilty over the murder, arguing self-defence and that he used "reasonable force."

Mohamad Noor will plead not guilty and claim the shooting was self-defence and involved a reasonable use of force. Image credit: AP

Prosecutors say the then-rookie cop was in the passenger seat of his squad car with partner officer Matthew Harrity when Damond, unarmed and wearing her Pyjamas approached the vehicle.

On approach, he fired his handgun across Harrity and out the vehicle’s window, shooting Damond in the stomach. She died minutes later.

Her death has drawn international headlines and sparked protests in the city against police brutality and has led to accusations of racism because Noor is a black Muslim.

The victim Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk. Image credit: Reuters

The shooting also drew condemnation in Minnesota and Australia, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling it “inexplicable.”

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told News Corp Australia that he was confident of a conviction and that there was no evidence Noor encountered a threat that justified deadly force.

“We have a second-by-second understanding of what happened,” Freeman said in March.

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor leaving the Hennepin County jail in March with his lawyer, Thomas Plunkett, after posting bail. Image credit: Reuters

“In the short time between when Damond approached the squad car and the time that officer Noor fired the fatal shot, there is no evidence that officer Noor encountered a threat, appreciated a threat, investigated a threat or confirmed a threat that justified his decision to use deadly force.

“If you take it down to the most basic element, Officer Noor reached across his partner inside a police squad car and shot out the open window of the driver, his partner’s car, at an object or an entity that he had not recognised,” he said.

Police officers are only allowed to use deadly force if there is a threat, and in our view, we believe that the evidence shows there is no way that Officer Noor perceived or had a threat to himself or others that justified him using this kind of deadly force.

“Instead officer Noor intentionally and recklessly fired his handgun from the passenger seat in disregard for human life.”

Noor was dismissed from the force on the day the charges were announced and is presently free and living with his parents after making bail of $US500,000.

Mohamed Noor’s mugshot was released by Hennepin County Jail in Minnesota.

The penalty for third-degree murder is a maximum of 25 years in prison and second-degree manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 10 years.

No police officer in Minnesota has ever been convicted of a shooting death.

Damond, who was living with her American fiance Don Damond for two years before her death was killed just weeks before the couple was due to be married.

He was out of town on a business trip on the night of her death.

Justine Damond Ruszczyk and her fiance Don Damond lived together for two years before her death. Image credit: Facebook