MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After about a day of deliberation, a jury has found Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017, guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in her death.
A day after attorneys made closing arguments, a jury of 10 men and two women declared their verdict for the 33-year-old officer Tuesday afternoon.
Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home minutes before she was shot.
WCCO’s Reg Chapman, who was in the courtroom when the verdict was read, says Noor’s father was seen covering his face with his hands in disbelief, while Damond’s family reportedly burst into tears as the ruling was handed down.
“We are satisfied with the outcome,” said John Ruszczyk in a press conference following the verdict. “We believe the conviction was reached despite the active resistance of a number of Minneapolis officers.”
Noor has been handcuffed and taken into custody.
On Monday morning, Attorney Amy Sweasy delivered closing arguments for the prosecution.
In part, she said no recovering or healing can be done because Damond is dead. She said mistakes were made and that Noor acted recklessly with intent to kill. The attorney added that Noor’s inexperience led to Damond’s death.
On the other hand, the defense attorney’s closing arguments were dramatic. Defense attorney Thomas Plunkett yelled and slammed his hands on the desk, saying that’s how fast Noor had to react.
He asked the jury to judge Noor only by his actions in that moment because that’s all that matters.
Throughout the trial, the defense has argued that Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, were spooked by a thump or noise on their squad car — possibly Damond hitting the squad as she walked up.
During his testimony, Noor explained how he heard his partner yell “oh Jesus” and reach for his gun.
“My partner feared for his life. He turned with fear in his eyes, he looked toward me and his gun was caught in his holster,” Noor said. “My intent was to stop the threat and save my partner’s life.”
Following the shooting, Noor said he felt his “whole world come tumbling down.”
“I couldn’t breathe. It’s like paralysis,” Noor said. “If I had known this was going to happen, I would never have been a cop.”
Prosecutors have questioned the supposed noise, noting investigators didn’t find forensic evidence of Damond’s fingerprints on the car.
RELATED: Key Points In The Mohamed Noor Trial
Marsh Halberg, a former prosecutor and well-known defense attorney, sat through much of the testimony. He says Minnesota law allows for the use of deadly force if an officer perceives a threat.
“You don’t have to perceive an actual danger, it’s an apparent danger,” Halberg said.
In Noor’s partner’s testimony, Harrity explained to the jury how he thought the thump could be a possible ambush. He admitted he thought of his safety first.
Harrity then said he heard a “very mellow pop and saw a flash.” He said it sounded like a light bulb being dropped to the ground. Harrity said he didn’t know if he was shot but determined he was OK.
Harrity’s body camera footage was shown during the testimony. Damond can be heard in the video saying, “I’m dead, I’m dying.”
Harrity told Noor to holster his gun and began giving Damond CPR. At one point in the video, Noor gives CPR as Harrity instructs him. Harrity is heard saying, “Keep fighting, ma’am. Stay with us.”
Harrity testified their body cameras were not initially turned on the night of the shooting because Harrity said he didn’t think policy warranted it.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that both Harrity and Noor should have turned on their body cameras when responding to the call for help.
The trial began on April 1. Noor will be sentenced on June 7 at 9 a.m.
Check back with WCCO for the latest updates.