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Noor testifies about the moments before he fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond

April 29, 2019 05:32 AM

After the prosecution rested its case Thursday morning, former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor took the stand to testify in his own defense Thursday afternoon. 

Noor is on trial for murder and manslaughter in the 2017 fatal shooting of 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

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He described to jurors what happened in the moments before he shot Damond.

When his partner, officer Matthew Harrity, stopped the car at the end of the south Minneapolis alley behind Damond's home, Noor said he heard a loud bang, and heard Harrity yell "Oh Jesus!"

"My partner turned to me with fear in his eyes, unable to unholster his gun," Noor said on the stand.

Noor said after that he saw a female raising her right hand.

"I fired one shot," Noor said. "The threat was gone."

Noor said he fired because he wanted to protect his partner, whom he believed feared for his life.

"My intent was to stop that threat," Noor said from the stand.

The former police officer got emotional when talking about the trauma brought on by the shooting. His attorney asked him what his reaction was when he realized Damond was dead.

"My whole world came crashing down," Noor told the jury. "Great anguish. Couldn't breathe."

But on cross-examination, prosecutors began pointing out inconsistencies from Noor's testimony to the version of events Harrity told jurors.

One example was that Noor said Harrity's gun got stuck in the holster. Harrity's testimony described him quickly grabbing the gun when he saw Damond appear at the window.

"There were several inconsistencies in what officer Noor told the jury and told the investigator beforehand that goes a long way to assessing credibility," said attorney Steve Schleicher. 

Schleicher, who is serving as KSTP's legal expert, is not involved in the case.

He said Noor's testimony was important for the jury to hear.

"He is trying to use his partner's reaction to justify his conduct, his reaction to the circumstance," Schleicher said.

Noor also spoke about his childhood, immigrating to the United States and his police training while on the stand.

DIGITAL EXTRA: Examining Thursday's developments in Noor trial

During his testimony, Noor said: "I always wanted to serve the diverse communities, wanted to make a difference, felt a need to serve and give back." 

When testifying about ambush training, Hoffland reported Noor said he was taught that "action is better than reaction. If you're reacting it's too late." 

 

The judge later questioned the defense's ability to discuss ambush training since there is "no evidence of an ambush" in the case.

The defense has asked the judge to dismiss the charges in the case, but the judge said "there is sufficient evidence for these charges to go to the jury."

The defense also asked Noor about his firearms training before attending the police academy.

He responded by saying he'd only shot a gun once or twice before that with a friend at a local firing range.

Noor also said he had gone through scenarios in training having to do with an ambush in a squad car. He said as long as his partner was safe, he was trained that he could shoot out of the squad car in any direction.

KSTP's complete coverage of the Noor trial

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Credits

Brett Hoffland and Kirsten Swanson

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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