Aussie Justine Damond Shot Dead By US Cop Who 'Feared For His Life'
Nearly two years after Australian-American Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot dead in her pyjamas outside her Minneapolis home her accused killer, the police officer she’d called for help, will stand trial for murder.
Mohamad Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after his split-second decision to raise his gun and fatally shoot an unarmed 911 caller.
The 33-year-old former police officer has pleaded not guilty, intending to argue that he acted in self-defence because he was fearing for his life when the trial gets underway at Hennepin County Government Centre on Monday.
The case has garnered huge attention through a racially divided America over the past 21 months, particularly here in Minnesota where there have been several police shootings.
Justine had called the police to report a woman being assaulted in the alley behind her home, so the mystery remains how the responding officer, shot the first woman he saw.
In evidence to be presented to the jury in the trial Noor’s partner claims he feared for his life which is a common defence among American police officers accused of these shootings.
In the 12 years, between 2005 and 2017 just 35 percent of the 80 officers arrested for murder or manslaughter charges were convicted.
It’s a statistic that lingers in the back of the minds of local activist groups in Minneapolis, who invited 10 News First to attend their Saturday meeting ahead of the trial.
Collectively, they spoke of their desperation for a conviction in this case, as Justice for Justine means justice for all in their eyes.
“Justice for Justine in our eyes is justice for all victims of police brutality,” Justine’s neighbour, Sarah Kuhnen said.
Rachel Goligoski, from the coalition united against police brutality, added that if any case could get a conviction it would be Justine’s.
"Because the accused is black and an immigrant and the victim is a white woman,” she said.
She was family friends with Minneapolis boy, Philando Castile, who was shot seven times by a police officer Jeronimo Yanez.
His death was recorded by his girlfriend, yet Yanez was acquitted.
Another woman, Jess Sundin, said a conviction in this trial will foster two types of emotions.
“For Justine and her family who absolutely deserve a conviction it’ll be a relief, but on the other hand there will be a lot of bitterness and hurt in communities where they haven’t seen justice,” she said.
Noor is not expected to give evidence and faces up to 25 years in jail if convicted.