Cop who shot Justine walks out
THE cop accused of third-degree murder after he fatally shot unarmed Australian woman Justine Damond has walked out of jail.
Mohamed Noor, who faces charges of murder and manslaughter, posted bond Wednesday evening and left the Hennepin County Jail with his lawyer just before 9.30pm.
The 33-year-old looked serious and did not speak to the cameras as he walked out of jail wearing a checked shirt and navy jacket.
Earlier in the day, his bail was set at $520,000, reduced from the $650,000 the state had argued for, claiming he was a flight risk because he had lost his job.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who charged Mr Noor, said that convicting him will be difficult. "We have a daunting task in front of us," Mr Freeman said when announcing the charges Tuesday.
A report by Bowling Green State University into about 12,000 officer-involved shootings between 2005 and 2017 found that 82 officers were charged with murder or manslaughter, and of those, just 29 were convicted, mostly for lesser manslaughter charges. Only one was convicted of intentional murder.
Mr Noor shot the 40-year-old life coach on July 15, minutes after she called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her home.
"In the short time between when Ms Damond-Ruszczyk approached the squad car and the time Officer Noor fired the fatal shot, there is no evidence that officer Noor encountered a threat, appreciated a threat, investigated a threat or confirmed a threat that justified his decision to use deadly force," Mr Freeman said.
"Instead, Officer Noor recklessly and intentionally fired his handgun from the passenger seat in disregard for human life."
His partner Matthew Harrity, who was driving on the night Ms Damond died on July 15, said he was startled by a loud noise near their car, according to court documents.
Ms Damond approached the driver's side window and Mr Noor fired his gun across Mr Harrity, striking Ms Damond in the abdomen through that window of the vehicle.
Despite frantic attempts to save her life, she died at the scene.
The account of what occurred was given to state investigators by Mr Harrity - Mr Noor refused to be interviewed.
The court papers also revealed the final minutes and the last haunting words of Ms Damond's life.
Mr Harrity said the pair waited at the end of the alley for a cyclist to pass, but about five seconds later, they both heard a voice like "a muffled voice or a whisper" and a thump behind their squad car and "caught a glimpse of a person's head and shoulders outside his window". He said that both men "got spooked".
"Officer Harrity said he was startled and said 'Oh sh** or 'Oh Jesus.' He said he believed his life was in danger, reached for his gun, upholstered it, and held it to his rib cage while pointing it downward. He said from the driver's seat he had a better vantage point to determine a threat than Officer Noor would have had from the passenger seat," the court documents stated.
In his account to police, Mr Harrity said he couldn't see the figure's hands and that within seconds he heard a sound and saw a flash. He looked out the window and saw Ms Damond, who had "put her hands on a gunshot wound on the left side of her abdomen and said 'I'm dying' or 'I'm dead'".
The charges said there was "no evidence" that "Officer Noor encountered, appreciated, investigated or confirmed a threat that justified the decision to use deadly force".
"Instead, Officer Noor recklessly and intentionally fired his handgun from the passenger seat, a location at which he would have been less able than Officer Harrity to see and hear events on the other side of the squad car," the charges said.
Ms Damond was a former Sydney vet and yoga teacher who moved to America's midwest to marry her fiance Don Damond.
She was killed just weeks before the couple was due to be married, however she had already taken his name ahead of the wedding.
Ms Damond's father, John Ruszcyzk, and Mr Damond issued a joint statement on behalf of both families. The men applauded the decision to charge Mr Noor "as one step toward justice for this iniquitous act".
They said they were pleased that the investigation appeared diligent and thorough, and they hoped for a conviction.
"No charges can bring our Justine back. However, justice demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing the fellow citizens they are sworn to protect, and today's actions reflect that," the statement said.