Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman who had called 911, said he “knew in an instant that I was wrong” and apologized to her family before a judge brushed off a defense request for leniency and ordered him to prison for 12½ years, the Associated Press reports. Noor. a Somali American, shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white, upper-middle-class dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, when she approached his squad car in the alley behind her home in 2017. Noor, 33, testified that a loud bang on the squad car startled him and his partner and that he fired to protect his partner’s life. Prosecutors criticized Noor for shooting without seeing a weapon or Damond’s hands. A jury convicted him of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Some people in Minneapolis’ large Somali community and the larger black community argued the case was handled differently from police shootings in which the victims were black and the officers were white. Noor’s conviction came after Jeronimo Yanez, a Latino officer, was cleared of manslaughter in the 2016 death of black motorist Philando Castile in a nearby suburb. Noor, his voice breaking as he spoke publicly about the shooting for the first time, apologized to Damond’s family for “taking the life of such a perfect person.” Noor’s attorneys argued for a sentence as light as probation, but Judge Kathryn Quaintance imposed a term identical to state sentencing guidelines. “The act may have been based on a miscalculation, but it was an intentional act,” Quaintance said. “Good people sometimes do bad things.” It’s rare for police officers to be charged for on-duty shootings, let alone convicted. Criminologist Philip Stinson of Bowling Green State University said only three officers have been convicted of murder since 2005, with an average sentence almost identical to Noor’s.