A former Minneapolis police officer has been found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the July 2017 shooting death of an unarmed woman who had called police to her home to investigate a possible attack outside.
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Jurors read the verdict against former officer Mohamed Noor in the death of 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond of Australia on Tuesday afternoon. Noor was found not guilty of the top charge of second-degree murder.
"We are satisfied with the outcome," Justine's father, John Ruszczyk, said outside the courthouse following the verdict. "The jury's decision reflects the community's commitment to three important pillars of a civil society: The rule of law, the respect for the sanctity of life and the obligation of the police force to serve and protect."
Noor's lawyer, Tom Plunkett, said he had no comment following the verdict.
On July 15, 2017, Damond had called 911 to report what she feared was a woman being sexually assaulted behind her home in the city's Fulton neighborhood, according to a criminal complaint.
"I can hear someone out the back and I -- I'm not sure if she's having sex or being raped," Damond could be heard telling the 911 operator, according to a transcript released by police.
When Noor and partner Matthew Harrity arrived in a dark alley behind her home, she approached the driver's side of the squad car, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Noor, who was in the passenger seat of the squad car, shot Damond through the open window on the driver's side after he and Harrity were "spooked" by a noise, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
After the gunshot went off, Harrity, who was sitting in the driver's seat, saw Noor's arm stretched across him, toward the open window, Freeman said.
Four minutes after Damond had left her home, an officer was performing CPR on her. She died just three weeks before her wedding day.
There was "no evidence of a threat" when Noor fired the shot, Freeman said.
Noor, a two-year veteran at the time of the shooting, had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Damond, who had moved to the U.S. a few years earlier, was an Australian yoga teacher, counselor and meditation coach. After the shooting, hundreds of people marched in the streets demanding justice for her death.
During Noor's trial, prosecutors had argued that the former officer violently gunned Damond down through the open driver's side window when she appeared on the side of the squad car, claiming he abused his authority to use deadly force.
Defense attorneys, however, had claimed that Damon startled the officers by banging on the car as she approached. They argued that when she raised her arm, Noor made a split-second decision to protect his partner.
Noor's attorney maintained that he'd "acted as he has been trained" and that he should "not have been charged with any crime."
Noor's last day as an employee with the police department was in March 2018, but Minneapolis police would not comment on whether he resigned or was fired.