Noor's former partner takes stand in murder trial

April 18, 2019 10:12 PM

The partner of a Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a possible rape near her home described the moments before the shooting while testifying in court Thursday.


Officer Matthew Harrity is a critical witness in the trial of Mohamed Noor. Noor killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond with a single shot as she approached the officers' squad car in July 2017.

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Harrity testified that he and Noor were rolling down the alley behind Damond's house searching for anything related to the 911 call of a woman in trouble. Harrity testified he had pulled the hood off his gun's holster in case he needed to draw it.

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Asked why, Harrity said he considers every call a threat until it's not.

KSTP reporter Brett Hoffland notes from inside the courtroom that the defense focused on the element of fear, asking Harrity "You thought you were being ambushed?"

Harrity replied " scared me as much as I've ever been scared."

Harrity said that when they turned into the alley, he heard a noise that he determined was a dog.

"It was constantly whining, barking," Harrity said. "I remember actually saying 'I think I hear a dog barking, I wonder if that was what the person was hearing,'"

Prosecutors say GPS data shows the squad car was in the alley for less than two minutes. They pushed Harrity on why they didn't investigate further.

"We can't search every single block," Harrity said.

He also told the jury he didn't connect this call to an earlier call in that area, where the two went to check on a report of an emotionally disturbed person.

Harrity testified that when they reached the end of the alley, he saw a bicyclist in the street. As he waited for him to cross in front of their squad Harrity said got a "weird feeling" to his left and was "startled" by the silhouette of a person.

"I hear something hit the car, then hear a murmur, really close together," Harrity said. "That's when I start reaching for my firearm."

Body camera videos from both officers were played in court. They were not turned on during the shooting.

In the video, Harrity is seen giving Damond CPR, while Noor stands over to the side of her. Noor begins to pace around the area, before taking over CPR from Harrity.

The video shows Noor pressing on Damond's chest so quickly that Harrity tells him to "slow down" a little bit.

As more officers arrive at the scene, Harrity and Noor explain the shot was fired from them.

"I did it," Noor says to responding officers before being taken away from the scene.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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