By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder has pleaded not guilty.

Mohamed Noor’s attorney entered the plea Friday on his behalf during his pretrial hearing.

Noor shot and killed Justine Ruszcyk Damond in July 2017 as she approached a police car after calling 911 for help.

Noor is charged with second-degree intentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Noor said nothing during his 30-minute pretrial hearing. Noor looked straight ahead as Judge Kathryn L. Quaintance discussed motions by both the defense and prosecution to bring certain factors into the trial.

The judge denied the prosecution’s request to tell jurors about Noor’s refusal to take part in a voluntary interview after the shooting of Damond. She says a person’s right not to incriminate oneself is a fundamental constitutional right.

The prosecution also wanted the court to consider a previous psychological evaluation Noor took in his process to be a police officer as evidence. The judge denied that motion as well.

Judge Quaintance also ruled that prosecutors could not use Noor’s “prior acts” as a police officer as evidence against him. That includes a field training officers report that Noor refused to respond to police calls on occasion while he was in training.

Judge Quaintance said the evidence is not relevant and its value is outweighed by the unfair prejudice it could impose. She said no one can testify about Noor’s motive or state of mind at the time of the shooting, but evidence about it could come into play if Noor testifies.

The defense wanted to separate out the second-degree murder count into another case, but Judge Quaintance said all charges against Noor will be tried in one case.

Judge Quaintance has yet to determine if a use of force expert can be a witness for the defense.

The trial is set for April 1.

Reg Chapman

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