Ahead of his sentencing, a former police officer convicted of fatally shooting an Australian motivational speaker requested an unexpected alternative sentence that he claimed would honor his victim.
A jury found former Minnesota cop Mohamed Noor, 33, guilty in April of third-degree murder and manslaughter, nearly two years after he shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond on July 15, 2017. The 40-year-old dual citizen of Australia and the U.S. called 911 that day to report a possible sexual assault near her home in Southwest Minneapolis, but when she approached the responding squad car, Noor unexpectedly fired his gun, striking and killing Damond.
Before Noor's sentencing on Friday, his attorneys filed a motion requesting that he receive no prison time and, instead, a judge should agree to a “mitigated sentencing departure” that would only see Noor behind bars for two weeks out of the year, KSTP, an ABC affiliate based in St. Paul, reports.
Noor’s attorneys Thomas Plunkett and Peter Wold suggested their client be required to report to the Hennepin County workhouse for one week, twice a year: on the week of Damond’s birthday in April, and on the anniversary of her death in July, the outlet reports.
“This sentence honors the memory of Ms. Ruszczyk and allows Mr. Noor to continue to serve the city,” they reportedly wrote.
In addition to asking the judge to consider that Noor had no past offenses and has been remorseful regarding Damond’s death, the attorneys also included 44 letters from family, fellow officers, and community members, all written in support of Noor, according to KSTP.
Community members gathered Thursday outside the Hennepin County Government Center in support of Noor, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Many of them held signs suggesting that Noor’s charges stemmed from race and identity politics, as Noor is a black Muslim of Somali descent while Damond was white, according to the station.
However, the judge rejected the unusual proposal. On Friday, June, 7, Noor was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison, the sentence prosecutors recommended.
"The law does not allow lenience because someone is a good person," Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance told Noor, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Noor, who was seated in the passenger seat at the time of the fatal shooting, previously claimed that he fired his gun because he heard a loud noise from the driver’s side door and believed that his partner was in danger, the New York Post reports.
City officials announced last month that they’d reached a settlement with the deceased woman’s family, having agreed to a payout of $20 million days after Noor was convicted.
Noor is the only law enforcement officer ever convicted of murder in Minnesota for an on-duty incident.
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