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Ex-Minneapolis police officer sentenced to 57 months in fatal shooting of Australian woman - Metro US

Ex-Minneapolis police officer sentenced to 57 months in fatal shooting of Australian woman

Mohamed Noor former Minnesota policeman on trial for fatally shooting an Australian woman walks into the courthouse in Minneapolis

By Peter Szekely

(Reuters) -Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor drew a reduced sentence of 57 months in prison – the maximum possible for manslaughter – after his murder conviction in the 2017 shooting death of an Australian woman was overturned last month.

Last month the Minnesota Supreme Court vacated Noor’s third-degree murder conviction and ordered that he be resentenced on a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Justine Ruszczyk, 40, who called police on the night of July 15, 2017, after hearing a woman scream near her home.

Noor fired his gun at Ruszczyk from the passenger seat as she approached the police vehicle, killing her.

At the sentencing hearing on Thursday, prosecutors read victim-impact statements from Ruszczyk family members in Australia, who urged Minnesota District Judge Kathryn Quaintance to impose the maximum sentence.

But Ruszczyk’s fiance, Don Damond, said in a Zoom hook-up to the court that Justine would have forgiven Noor and that he forgives him too.

“All I ask is that you use this experience to do good for other people,” Damond told Noor.

Noor, a 35-year-old Somali immigrant, briefly addressed the court saying, “I’m deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused that family, and I will take his advice and be a unifier.”

Lawyers for Noor had sought the minimum 41 months available under sentencing guidelines, saying he had been a “model prisoner.”

But Quaintance, who had imposed the original sentence in June 2019, rejected Noor’s good-behavior prison record as grounds for a reduced sentence.

Instead, she noted that Noor fired “across the nose” of his partner in the squad car on a warm summer night when residents of a nearby house were entertaining on their porch.

“These factors of endangering the public make your crime of manslaughter appropriate for high end of the guidelines,” the judge told Noor.

Had Quaintance accepted the defense request, Noor, who has already served about 2-1/2 years of his original 12-1/2-year sentence, could have been unconditionally released by early October 2022.

Even under the 57-month sentence, Minnesota inmates with good behavior become eligible for release, albeit supervised release, after serving two-thirds of their sentence, which for Noor would be next June.

In 2019, a jury acquitted Noor of second-degree murder but convicted him of third-degree “depraved-mind murder” and second-degree manslaughter, and he was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in prison.

But the state’s top court voided the third-degree murder conviction, reasoning that it requires a “generalized indifference to human life,” which “cannot exist when the defendant’s conduct is directed with particularity at the person who is killed.”

Since 2005, only about a half of the 140 non-federal U.S. police officers charged with murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting have been convicted, according to data compiled by a Bowling Green State University criminologist.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Howard Goller)

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