Mohamed Noor’s attorney argues to reverse convictions, get new trial; prosecutors say Noor acted ‘extremely dangerous’
In a Minnesota Court of Appeals oral argument hearing on Wednesday morning, Mohamed Noor’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, argued that his client’s convictions should be reversed or that he should be given a new trial.
The former Minneapolis police officer is serving 12.5 years in prison after being convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who called 911 in Minneapolis in July 2017.
According to an audio recording of the case hearing obtained by KSTP, Plunkett told the panel that the charges against him were "not appropriate," for various reasons.
He went into more detail, stating that the third-degree murder charge doesn’t apply because Noor was focused on a specific person. Plunkett argued that the statute requires that the charge be applied when someone causes a death "without intent to effect the death of any person." According to Minnesota statutes, deadly force is justified for a police officer’s use if it’s required to protect a "peace officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm."
In response to the judge’s question on how that law applied in Noor’s case, Plunkett responded by saying Noor’s former partner, Matthew Harrity, had "never been this scared in his entire life" when Damond approached the police squad in the alley near her home in Minneapolis on the 1500 block of Washburn Avenue South.
Plunkett went on to compare past cases where officers may have been in a "depraved state of mind," meaning they were responding to a call where they already had the awareness that something could escalate. In defense of Noor’s actions, Plunkett said he was not in a "depraved state of mind" at the time of the shooting.
Noor’s attorney went on to argue that Hennepin County District Court Judge Kathryn Quaintance should have allowed more testimony about the officers’ fear of being ambushed.
"If this is an ambush, both officers are dead," Plunkett said.
Prosecutors pushed back on the claims by Plunkett, calling Noor’s actions "rash" and "extremely dangerous."
The three-judge panel will consider the arguments and issue a decision within 90 days.
Noor was responding to Damond’s 911 call about a possible sexual assault behind her south Minneapolis home on July 15, 2017, when he shot the 40-year-old from the passenger seat of his police car. His partner, Harrity, was in the driver’s seat and did not fire his weapon.