MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mohamed Noor posted bond and is out of jail Wednesday night. A judge set bail at $400,000 at his first hearing this afternoon.

Noor was charged yesterday with one count of third degree murder and one count of second degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Justine Damond last summer. Damond had called 911 twice that night to report what she thought was a sexual assault in the alley behind her South Minneapolis home.

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Noor has never given a statement to police but his partner, Officer Mathew Harrity, said Damond approached the car so suddenly that he was in fear of his life, even unholstered his gun but did not fire.

The fact that Noor was even charged is rare. This is believed to be only the second time an on-duty officer has been charged in a shooting in Minnesota.

The other was the recent case of St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who shot cafeteria manager Philando Castille. Officer Yanez was found not guilty in his trial.

What we do know about both these cases is that deadly force by an officer is considered lawful in Minnesota if the officer feels they are protecting themselves or someone else from great harm or death. Is that what happened to Noor? The trial rests on the answer to that question.

During a news conference Tuesday announcing the charges, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman admitted the trouble in prosecuting such a case.

“We have a daunting task in front of us,” he said.

And there are statistics to prove it. A study done by Bowling Green State University tracked about 12,000 officer-involved shootings between 2005 and mid-2017. Eighty two officers were charged with murder or manslaughter. Of those, 29 were convicted, and most of those convictions were for lesser manslaughter charges.

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Only one officer was convicted of intentional murder.

That’s because jurors give police officers like Noor more grace than they would another murder defendant, according to attorney Joe Friedberg, who isn’t affiliated with the case.

“Juries do give the cops the real presumption of innocence that everyone’s entitled to, and that’s why it’s so hard to convict them,” he said.

Friedberg says one major new detail is that Officer Harrity who was also in the car, and says he also reached for his weapon.

“That is good evidence for Noor, because it shows that under the same circumstances, another officer reacted at least initially the same way,” Friedberg said.

Friedberg also predicts the charge of third degree murder against Officer Noor will likely be short-lived — so it will come down to manslaughter or nothing.

We can also expect plenty of expert witness testimony into Noor’s training and split second decision-making.

“All-in-all, the thing that is going to be most interesting is the peak into mindset of Officer Noor as he went up that dark alley,” Friedberg said.

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Friedberg says it was a huge move by the defense for Officer Noor to choose not to be interviewed by investigators. By law, he doesn’t have to talk at all — but it’s possible, depending on how the case plays out, that he could speak publicly for the first time on the witness stand.

John Lauritsen