Ex-Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor will stand trial in April for Justine Damond shooting

September 27, 2018

Ex-Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor is scheduled to stand trial on murder and manslaughter charges next April for the 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a Hennepin County judge ordered Thursday.

In a brief court appearance Noors second since he was charged Judge Kathryn Quaintance set the April 1 trial date, and also ruled that there was enough evidence to bring the former Minneapolis police officer to trial for the death of the 40-year-old Australian woman last summer.

Noor, who was fired from the department in March, hasnt entered a plea on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, but his attorneys indicated that he would plead not guilty by self-defense. He remains free on bail.

His firing was appealed by the police union, but its grievance is on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case.

The defense argued for dismissal of the case on the grounds that the intense media attention surrounding the case might undermine Noors right to a fair trial, while arguing that comments Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman made last winter rise to the level of prosecutorial misconduct and could taint prospective jurors.

Noor is the first police officer statewide in recent memory to be charged with murder for an on-duty killing.

Damond, whose legal last name was Ruszczyk, but who went by Justine Damond professionally, had called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her south Minneapolis home in July 2017. Prosecutors say she was shot as she approached the SUVs driver side window, with Noor firing past his partner Matthew Harrity, who was behind the wheel.

Prosecutors argued that Noors actions on that night reflected a pattern of behavior that dated back to his hiring in early 2015, when a psychological profile exam revealed a level of disaffiliativeness that may be incompatible with public safety requirements. They said Noor also raised red flags during his training.

Prosecutors sought to seal the records, arguing that since they were collected in the course of an investigation by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, it should be considered investigative data, whose release under state data practices law is allowed only once the investigation is closed.

In a follow-up filing, his attorneys asked the judge to suppress the psychological records, but if she should allow them into record, to make them available in full to the public.

Noor is also the subject of two lawsuits currently wending their way through federal court. Damonds father filed a $50 million suit last month accusing Noor and Harrity of conspiring to cover up evidence of the shooting by failing to turn on their body cameras, and later hiding behind a blue wall of silence as the case was being investigated.

A settlement conference is scheduled for Oct. 17 in another lawsuit, filed weeks before the Damond shooting by a south Minneapolis woman who accused Noor and two other officers of illegally removing her from her home.

Attorneys in both lawsuits have filed motions seeking to delay proceedings until after the criminal trial, but the judges in those cases have yet to rule.

Libor Jany 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany

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