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Noor pleads not guilty to all three counts in 2017 fatal shooting

March 26, 2019 09:46 AM

The former Minneapolis police officer charged in the 2017 fatal shooting of an unarmed Australian woman entered not-guilty pleas to charges of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter Friday, arguing he was acting in self-defense when he shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

Friday's hearing lasted 30 minutes with 33-year-old Mohamed Noor's family members sitting in the same row as Ruszczyk Damond's fiancé Don Damond.

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RELATED: Hearing in Noor case to cover evidence issues

Judge Kathryn Quaintance also ruled that the fact that Noor declined to speak to investigators in the matter will not be allowed to be used against him in court, accepting defense attorneys' arguments that he has a constitutional right not to make any self-incriminating statements.

"I'm not allowing it," the judge said. "It's more prejudicial than probative."

However, Quaintance did rule that it can be used in court if Noor takes the witness stand. The trial is scheduled to begin on April 1.

Quaintance also ruled prosecutors could not submit evidence from a pre-employment psychological evaluation - a test that found Noor was disinterested in interacting with others and, when compared with other officers, was more likely to be impatient or have difficulty confronting people. A psychiatrist concluded that overall, Noor was fit to be a police officer, saying the test results don't carry much weight.

Nor will she allow a video showing Noor pointing a gun at a driver during a traffic stop months before he fatally shot Ruszczyk Damond to be presented.

The judge did reject a defense request to separate the most serious murder charge from the other two counts, saying the trial would move ahead as charged.

And she accepted a jury questionnaire that asks - among other items - if potential jurors have ever been treated unfairly by police, to describe their best and worst experience with law enforcement, whether they have had contact with members of the Minneapolis Police Department and their overall opinions of the Minneapolis Police Department. 

She will not allow video in the courtroom during the trial.

Neither Noor nor his attorneys answered questions from reporters afterward.

KSTP has reached out to members of Ruszczyk Damond's family for comment, but their lawyer said they will not be commenting until the trial has concluded.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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