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Cop Who Killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond Gets 3rd-Degree Murder Conviction Reversed

The Minnesota Supreme Court rescinded the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis cop Mohamed Noor in the fatal 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond on Wednesday.

The court ruled they couldn’t prove Noor reacted with a “depraved mind, without regard for human life,” which would be needed for a third-degree murder charge due to lack of evidence in Noor’s case. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea further explained the decision, NBC News reports.

“In sum, our precedent confirms that Noor is correct in arguing that a person does not commit depraved-mind murder when the person’s actions are directed at a particular victim,” Chief Justice Gildea stated. 

Although overturned and could reduce eight years of his sentence, even with the rescinding, Noor could still face up to four and a half years because of a second-degree manslaughter charge which is also being reconsidered, a Hennepin County Attorney’s Office spokeswoman confirmed. 

While prosecutors respect the Supreme Court’s decision, they also suggested Noor could’ve potentially harmed his partner or the passing bicyclist who served as a witness. The court ruled Noor was evident in his targeting.  

Noor has been behind bars for the conviction since April 30, 2019, and has since apologized for the death. 

Noor’s family and lawyers favor the court’s decision, with lawyer Peter Wold telling NBC News that his client is ready to get back home and “hug his son as soon as possible.” 

“I talked to Mo this morning. It’s relief, great relief,” Wold tells the outlet. “He has a young son, and it’s time they get back together.”

Wold also shared a statement with CNN about the decision, emphasizing how “grateful” he and Noor’s family are about the decision and says “with hardship comes ease.” 

“We have always maintained that this was a tragic case, and we are grateful for an exceptionally well-reasoned and unanimous opinion from this State’s highest court,” Wold continued. 

Wold said if his client takes the four-year manslaughter sentence, he can be eligible only to serve two-thirds of the sentence with the possibility to walk free by the end of this year. 

The Ruszczyk family, however, is not pleased with the decision. 

CNN quoted a statement from Damond’s husband, Don, who expresses how “deeply saddened” the family is about the decision, calling the killing “needless and reckless.”

“My hope and work since Justine’s death have been to try to prevent a further loss of life at the hands of stressed and inadequately trained police officers. The Minneapolis Police Department has not made any meaningful progress towards transformation. And now Noor is not being held accountable for killing my (fiancée),” Don said. “It truly feels like there has been no justice for Justine.”

In July 2017, Justine called 911 for what she believed was an act of sexual assault occurring in her Fulton neighborhood. Officer Noor and partner Matthew Harrity arrived at the scene and couldn’t identify the woman in distress. Both officers’ body cams were off and they used a spotlight to navigate through the alley. Justine then appeared, alarming the officers and leading Noor to fatally shoot her. 

Justine’s family agreed to settle for $20 million for the wrongful death of the Australian native. 

Back in March, CNN reported the courts agreed to reinstate the third-degree murder charge to his sentence.

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