Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was sentenced Thursday to nearly five years in prison for the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who called 911 to report that she thought she heard a sexual assault happening behind her home.
In April 2019, a jury took less than 12 hours to convict Noor, then 33, of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the July 2017 shooting death of 40-year-old Australian native Justine Ruszczyk Damond. He was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison.
Last month, the Minneapolis Supreme Court overturned Noor’s third-degree murder conviction, leaving him to be sentenced only for the second-degree manslaughter case.
That sentencing came Thursday, as AP reports he was given 57 months in prison, the maximum he could receive under state guidelines. Noor has already been incarcerated for the last 29 months, so with this new ruling, he could be released from prison in June 2022, due to his good behavior behind bars.
“Mr. Noor, I am not surprised that you have been a model prisoner,” Judge Kathryn Quaintance said. “However, I do not know any authority that would make that grounds for reducing your sentence.”
“She cited Noor ‘shooting across the nose of your partner’ and endangering others the night of the shooting to hand down the stiffest sentence she could, AP reports.
The case carried its own special racial tensions as Damond was white, and Noor is a Somali American. Tensions were already high over previous shootings where the officers doing the shooting were white and the victims were Black.
Activists had long called for police to be held accountable in these shootings, and as AP notes, many questioned if Noor was being treated differently because he is Black.
Noor testified at his 2019 trial that he and his partner were driving slowly in an alley when a loud bang on their police SUV made him fear for their lives. He said he saw a woman appear at the partner’s driver’s side window and raise her right arm before he fired a shot from the passenger seat to stop what he thought was a threat.
Damond’s family received a $20 million settlement from the city of Minneapolis. It was touted as the largest settlement in city history related to police violence until the $27 million granted to George Floyd’s family just as Derek Chauvin was set to go to trial.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder in Floyd’s death and sentenced to 22 ½ years in prison.