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Minneapolis cop gets nearly 5 years in killing of 911 caller

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman after she called 911 to report a possible rape happening behind her home was sentenced Thursday 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 last month.

Mohamed Noor was initially convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter in the 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual U.S.-Australian citizen and yoga teacher who was engaged to be married. But the Minnesota Supreme Court tossed out Noor’s murder conviction and sentence last month, saying the third-degree murder statute didn’t fit the case because it can only apply when a defendant shows a “generalized indifference to human life,” not when the conduct is directed at a particular person, as it was with Damond.

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.

“Mr. Noor, I am not surprised that you have been a model prisoner,” Quaintance said. “However, I do not know any authority that would make that grounds for reducing your sentence.” She cited Noor “shooting across the nose of your partner” and endangering others the night of the shooting to hand down the stiffest sentence she could.

Quaintance also remarked that because neither side had sought a departure from the sentencing guidelines, she was unable to deviate from them.

Noor, who was fired after he was charged, has already served more than 29 months. In Minnesota, inmates who behave well typically serve two-thirds of their prison sentences and the remainder on supervised release.

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.

He was sentenced to 12 1/2 years on the murder count and had been serving most of his time at an out-of-state facility.

Noor’s appeal of his murder conviction was watched closely for implications in the case of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted of the same charge in George Floyd’s death. After the state Supreme Court overturned Noor’s third-degree murder conviction, experts said they expected the same eventual result for Chauvin but that it would likely have little impact because Chauvin was also convicted of a more serious second-degree murder charge in Floyd’s death.

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