Jury To Consider Verdict Over Killing Of Justine Damond Ruszczyk
The fate of the former Minneapolis Police officer who shot and killed Sydney bride-to-be Justine Damond Ruszczyk is now in the hands of the jury, with attorneys from both sides making their closing arguments on Tuesday.
Mohamed Noor is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Ruszczyk, who had called to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home on July 15, 2017.
In the last day of the trial, the opposing attorneys spent more than three hours summing up their arguments, using three weeks of evidence and testimony from more than 60 witnesses.
Banging on the desk to start his closing argument, Defence Attorney Thomas Plunkett attempted to reenact the surprise Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, felt right before he fired.
“They snapped to a high-stress situation…Officer Harrity looked stunned and yelled ’oh Jesus!’…[Noor] sees a human figure, he knows whatever made Harrity react like that is there, so he pulls out his weapon, reaches across his partner and shoots,” Plunkett told the court.
He argues he intended to stop the perceived threat to save his partner’s life. According to the law, a police officer is authorised to use deadly force when protecting themselves or others from an apparent threat of death or great bodily harm.
“Had [her iPhone] been a firearm, he would've been a hero because he would've saved his partner's life,” he said.
“Now he has to live with the fact that he took an innocent life."
“It’s a tragedy, but not a crime.”
But State prosecutor Amy Sweasy described his actions as “unsafe, unreasonable, unjustified, violent and unauthorised”.
She highlighted inconsistencies in testimony between Noor and Harrity, the only two witnesses alive who know what happened, claiming Noor was a practised witness who had portrayed himself as a hero.
"They both can't be right," she said.
The most noticeable discrepancies Sweasy pointed out were that Noor claimed to put his arm across his partner, keeping him out of the field of fire, a piece of information Harrity never mentioned in his nine hours of questioning.
She also questioned Noor’s testimony that his partner struggled to get his gun out of his holster and if a “thump” on the patrol car, in fact, occurred -- and that Harrity himself, the man supposedly under attack, thought the use of deadly force was “premature”.
Sweasy said Noor acted with the intent to kill the 40-year-old and without regard for human life, asking the 12 jurors to find him guilty of two counts of murder and one of manslaughter.
Judge Kathryn Quaintance told the jurors they should consider whether Noor was justified in using deadly force based on what he knew when he fired his gun.
The 12 jurors have retired to consider their verdict.