Cop who shot 911 caller sentenced to 12½ years in prison

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys for a Minneapolis police officer convicted in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who had called 911 are asking a judge not to send him to prison, proposing instead that he report to jail each year on the woman's birthday and the anniversary of her death.

State guidelines call for a 12½-year prison term, but Mohamed Noor's attorneys argued in a court filing ahead of Friday's sentencing that being imprisoned would keep Noor from making amends for killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond by doing good works in the community.

Defense attorneys Thomas Plunkett and Peter Wold proposed in a memo to Judge Kathryn Quaintance that she creatively sentence Noor to turn himself in to a county detention facility for a week every year on the anniversary of Damond's death and another week starting on her birthday. The proposed sentence would last the duration of Noor's probation, which the attorneys didn't specify in their request, and also would include an annual period of community service.

"This sentence honors the memory of Ms. Rusczcyk and allows Mr. Noor to continue to serve the city," they wrote. "Just as importantly, it mandates that Mr. Noor will continue to consider his action and the great loss they caused."

Prosecutors were waiting until the hearing to recommend a sentence, said Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

Related: Vintage crime photos from the Daily News

Vintage crime photos from the Daily News
See Gallery
Vintage crime photos from the Daily News
UNITED STATES - MARCH 03: Confessed Slayer Enraged. William Patrick Farrell screams as he lunges toward fotog taking his picture in van outside Police Headquarters. Police say that Farrell, 25, father of two, reenacted for them the slaying of NYU coed Ann Yarrow last month. Farrell, a patient at Bellevue Hosipital twice before, was ordered to Bellevue again. (Photo by Al Amy/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 25: Leon Liss, Barney Mortillaro, Milton (Shuffles) Goldberg, Louis Liss, Pasquale Chicarelli and gang leader Richard Reese Whittemore (l. to r.) in a police lineup, after they were implicated in a gem holdup on W. 48th St. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 09: Theodore A. Clement in the back of a police paddy wagon after allegedly shooting a man during a poker game. (Photo by Al Amy/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 20: Isadore Strauss in jail cell at police headquarters after his arrest for murder and robbery in connection with Whittemore gang job. (Photo by Paul Levine/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 04: Abe (Kid Twist) Reles (center) in a police mug shot. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: Liquor store owner Abraham Weissman views the body of stickupman, Otis Mims, whom he shot during an attempted robbery. (Photo by Gary Kagan/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 01: Mass murderer Harry F. Powers, the Butcher of Clarksburg, tells a detective about the details of his grisly murders in Clarksburg, W.Va. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 19: Nela Bogacki, alias Nella Bogart, madam of the 'Continental call girl ring,' handcuffed to Salema Hontover after being seized by the F.B.I. Both are to be deported for illegal entry. (Photo by Al Amy/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: The body of Albert Anastasia - who ran Murder, Inc., a gang of hired killers for organized crime, in the late 1930s - lies on the barbershop floor at the Park Sheraton Hotel, Seventh Avenue and West 55th Street, soon after his murder by two gunmen at 10:20 A.M. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 20: A manacled LeRoy Luscomb is charged with first degree murder in the killing of his wife with a deer rifle. His wife is on the bed in the rear of the photo., (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) When John Kerr, of 147 W. 84th Street, and Peter Macon, 490 Columbus Avenue, were being booked on a mugging charge at the West 68th St. Precinct today, photographer Phil Grietzer, New York Daily News photographer, drew a bead on the proceedings with his camera. He didn't know the boys had a camera allergy. But he found out when the two, although handcuffed together, came charging at him. Another photographer who doesn't suffer from buck fever, got this picture.
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 16: Driver and bodyguard Thomas Bilotti lies on the street next to car after he and crime boss Paul Castellano were shot to death outside East Side steakhouse. (Photo by Thomas Monaster/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

A jury convicted Noor in April of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia who was engaged to be married a month after the shooting. Noor shot Damond when she approached his squad car in the alley behind her home.

Noor, 33, testified that a loud bang on the cruiser scared him and his partner, and that he saw a woman at his partner's window raising her arm. He said he fired to protect his partner's life. But prosecutors criticized Noor for shooting without seeing a weapon or Damond's hands, and disputed whether either of them really heard a bang.

Damond's death sparked bewilderment and outrage in both the U.S. and her native Australia. The case was also fraught with race . Damond was white and Noor is Somali American, leading some to question whether the case would have been handled the same if the victim had been black and the officer white.

While the city agreed to a $20 million settlement with Damond's family soon after Noor's conviction, it has yet to settle with the family of Jamar Clark , a black man shot by police in 2015. Though in that case, police said Clark was struggling for an officer's gun.

Noor has been held since his conviction in the most secure unit at the state's maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights for his own safety, Corrections Department spokeswoman Sarah Fitzgerald said Thursday.

Under Minnesota's sentencing guidelines, Noor's presumptive sentence for third-degree murder would be 12½ years, although the judge could impose a sentence anywhere from about 11 to 15 years without providing justification. Any bigger variation would require an explanation. The presumptive sentence on the manslaughter count is four years.

A 12½-year sentence would be long compared with convictions in other recent high-profile police shootings.

Most recently, white former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced in January to nearly seven years in prison for shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald. A white South Carolina police officer who fatally shot a black man in the back in 2017 got a 20-year sentence. But a white Oklahoma officer served less than half of his four-year sentence for killing an unarmed and restrained black man in 2015.

Susan Gaertner, a former chief prosecutor in neighboring Ramsey County, said she wouldn't be surprised if Noor got the 12½ years in the presumptive guidelines. But she also said she could see Quaintance going for the four-year recommended sentence for manslaughter — or no prison time at all.

Gaertner added that prison wouldn't accomplish much in this case.

"I think a showing of mercy at this point would help address the community's concerns around race and the disproportionate impact of this case," she said.


Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed to this story.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.