Ex-Minneapolis police officer gets reduced prison sentence after murder conviction tossed

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — A former Minneapolis police officer’s third-degree murder conviction was recently reversed by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Now, some are questioning whether this ruling might impact other former officers in Minnesota, such as Derek Chauvin, who was also convicted of third-degree murder.

In September, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, a Somali American who fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman in 2017, CBS reported.

The Court ruled that the charge did not fit the circumstances in the case.

Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen who called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home.

According to a report by Australian news outlet News.com.au, Damond called 911 twice to report a possible sexual assault behind her home in July of 2017:

“In the first emergency call from the night, Ms. Damond can be heard saying a woman sounds distressed and she thought she heard the word ‘help.’

“Ms. Damond called back eight minutes later to ensure police had the right address. She was told officers were on the way.

“The former Sydney resident went to meet the police car and was shot by Noor who was sitting in the front passenger seat.

“He and his partner said they were startled by Ms. Damond.”

AP News reported:

“Noor testified at his 2019 trial that he and his partner were driving slowly in an alley when a loud bang on their police SUV made him fear for their lives.

“He said he saw a woman appear at the partner’s driver’s side window and raise her right arm before he fired a shot from the passenger seat to stop what he thought was a threat.”

Damond’s family filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and received a $20 million settlement, according to AP News.

The outlet also shows chilling bodycam footage from the scene, including an officer desperately trying to save Damond’s life after she was shot. He is heard saying, “Stay with me, ma’am. Stay with me.”

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Noor was sentenced to 12 1/2 years on the murder count, but was not sentenced for manslaughter, according to CBS’ report:

“The ruling means his murder conviction is overturned and the case will now go back to the district court, where he will be sentenced on the manslaughter count.

“He has already served more than 28 months of his murder sentence. If sentenced to the presumptive four years for manslaughter, he could be eligible for supervised release around the end of this year.

“In the ruling, the Supreme Court said that for a third-degree murder charge, also known as ‘depraved-mind murder,’ the person’s mental state must show a ‘generalized indifference to human life, which cannot exist when the defendant’s conduct is directed with particularity at the person who is killed.’” 

CBS further noted:

“The justices said that the only reasonable inference that can be drawn in Noor’s case is that his conduct was directed with particularity at Damond, ‘and the evidence is therefore insufficient to sustain his conviction … for depraved-mind murder.’”

Noor was acquitted of second-degree murder in his trial.

On Oct. 21, Noor was re-sentenced to nearly five years in prison — the most the judge could impose, but less than half the 12½ years he was sentenced to for his murder conviction that was overturned in September.

According to AP News’ report:

“Judge Kathryn Quaintance, who also presided at Noor’s trial, granted prosecutors’ request to impose the maximum sentence in state guidelines on Noor’s manslaughter conviction, 57 months.

“In doing so, she brushed aside the defense’s request for 41 months, which is the low end of the range.

“With good behavior, Noor could be freed on supervised release by next summer. The state prison website listed his anticipated release date as June 27.”

Noor’s father, Mohamed Abass, denounced Quaintance on his way out of the courthouse as “the worst judge in Minnesota” and “very hateful.”

Speaking to reporters, Abass said he believed racism was a factor in her decision to impose the toughest sentence:

“This judge hates (the) Somali community.”

The Supreme Court ruling could give Chauvin possible grounds to contest his own third-degree murder conviction in George Floyd’s death in May 2020. However, CBS’ report noted:

“But that wouldn’t have much impact on Chauvin since he was also convicted of the more serious count of second-degree murder and is serving 22 1/2 years. Experts say it’s unlikely Chauvin would be successful in appealing his second-degree murder conviction.”

CBS reported the ruling was also closely watched for its possible impact on three other former Minneapolis officers awaiting trial in Floyd’s death:

“Prosecutors had wanted to add charges of aiding and abetting third-degree murder against them, but that’s unlikely to happen now.

“The trio are due to go on trial in March on charges of aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.”

However, Wes Walker wrote about how Noor’s case could still impact Chauvin’s:

“Like Noor, Chauvin was sentenced to and convicted of 3rd-degree murder. There were plenty of people outraged that the charge wasn’t 1st Degree murder which they considered ‘open and shut.’

“It wasn’t that simple. And now a judge has just ruled that Noor’s shooting of an innocent woman did not meet the requirements of third-degree murder.

“In the court’s own words, a threshold of a ‘generalized indifference to human life which cannot exist when the defendant’s conduct is directed with particularly at the person who is killed’ must be met to qualify as third-degree murder. 

“The allegations against officer Chauvin were never that he was a threat to all people generally, the way say a drunk driver might be, or someone firing a weapon blindly into the air might be.

“The allegations against Derek Chauvin have always been that he, personally, was a direct threat to George Floyd, personally and not to all persons in the vicinity. 

“By that standard, the prosecution has obviously brought the wrong charge against the accused.

“Does this mean he will go free? That’s unlikely, especially considering the high-profile nature of the case. But at the very least it suggests a reduced penalty.

“But considering all the other [ir]regularities in his case, including interference from elected Democrats and the President himself, he might get that retrial after all.”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

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