Prosecutor: Minnesota cop shooting woman a tragedy 'of his own making'

A Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 had no legitimate reason to use deadly force, a prosecutor argued Monday.

Posted: Apr 29, 2019 6:11 AM
Updated: Apr 29, 2019 1:00 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 had no legitimate reason to use deadly force, a prosecutor argued Monday.

Mohamed Noor's decision to shoot Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017 was "a tragic event of his own making," prosecutor Amy Sweasy argued Monday.

Noor is on trial for murder and manslaughter in the death of Damond, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia who had called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her home.

As the trial entered its fifth week, Sweasy used her closing argument to again question a key claim by Noor that he and his partner had been startled by a loud noise and feared an ambush just before Noor shot Damond.

Sweasy reminded jurors of the chaotic aftermath of the shooting, with responding officers trying to figure out what had happened. She said that's when the loud bang emerged, calling it a theory that took on a life of its own.

She noted that neither Noor nor partner Matthew Harrity mentioned it at the scene, with Harrity first talking about it three days later in an interview with a state investigator, and pointed out that Damond's fingerprints were not found on the squad car.

"There is no conclusive proof she ever touched that car," Sweasy said.

She also sought to knock down Noor's testimony that he saw fear in Harrity's eyes as Damond appeared at the window, that Harrity said "Oh Jesus!" and that Harrity was struggling to pull his gun when Noor fired.

"Whatever Harrity said or did, it was not a command for the defendant to shoot and kill Ms. Ruszczyk," Sweasy said.

Defense attorneys were giving their closing argument later Monday. The jury is to be sequestered once it gets the case.

Noor testified last week that he was in the passenger seat when he heard a loud bang on the driver's side, then his partner, Matthew Harrity, yelled and tried to pull his gun. Noor said he then saw a woman raise her arm outside Harrity's window and fired to save Harrity's life.

Noor's attorneys have argued he was justified in using deadly force. Prosecutors say he acted unreasonably because he saw neither a weapon nor Damond's hands. They also have questioned whether the supposed bang on the squad car was invented.

Judge Kathyrn Quaintance told jurors that officers may use deadly force only if necessary to protect themselves or others from great bodily harm. She said jurors must consider what a reasonable officer in the same situation would do without the benefit of hindsight.

She stressed that jurors should consider only the facts that were known to the officer at the moment of shooting.

The death of Damond, 40, a life coach who was engaged to be married a month after the shooting, sparked outrage in both the U.S. and Australia, cost Minneapolis' police chief her job and contributed to the electoral defeat of the city's mayor a few months later.

Noor, 33, is a Somali American who became a police officer with a mid-career switch from jobs in the business world. He broke more than 1½ years of silence about the shooting when he testified in his defense last week, saying he became a police officer because he "wanted to serve."

His hiring two years before the shooting was celebrated by Minneapolis leaders as a sign of a diversifying police force in a city with a large population of Somali immigrants.

He was fired after being charged.

Neither officer had a body camera running when Damond was shot, something Harrity blamed on what he called a vague policy that didn't require it. The department toughened the policy after Damond's death to require that the cameras be turned on when responding to a call.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604406

Reported Deaths: 7629
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249281777
Ramsey52501896
Dakota46829470
Anoka42767458
Washington27423291
Stearns22555224
St. Louis18138313
Scott17550135
Wright16374149
Olmsted13397102
Sherburne1201695
Carver1067248
Clay826092
Rice8200110
Blue Earth762544
Crow Wing681794
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619852
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475481
Mower470633
Winona461351
Itasca459463
Isanti439964
McLeod430561
Morrison424862
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397916
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton352856
Freeborn346933
Pine335023
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311954
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286132
Todd285633
Meeker263342
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163323
Fillmore157410
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95417
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48393
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371050

Reported Deaths: 6051
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58259640
Linn21218339
Scott20307248
Black Hawk16139312
Woodbury15238230
Johnson1461985
Dubuque13509211
Dallas1128899
Pottawattamie11225174
Story1071448
Warren583891
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554093
Sioux517474
Webster515794
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486676
Des Moines467472
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll286952
Boone268634
Crawford268440
Benton259855
Washington257251
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama211971
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198635
Page194522
Buchanan193833
Cedar192423
Hardin187444
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171157
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137333
Emmet135841
Jefferson133435
Shelby131537
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129849
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124817
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard104922
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9560
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56418
Wayne54423
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