MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A newly-disclosed email from the former police partner of ex-Minneapolis Officer Mohamed Noor asked a judge to give him leniency one day before she sentenced Noor to more than 12 years in prison for fatally shooting a woman.
Officer Matthew Harrity pleaded with the judge in an email to consider the impact the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond had on Noor.
Minnesota Public Radio News reported Wednesday that Harrity sent his email the day before Noor was sentenced on June 7.
Noor shot Damond, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, in the alley behind her home on July 15, 2017, after she called 911 to report what she thought was a woman being assaulted.
Harrity wrote to Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance that he and Noor were meant to “serve the community of Minneapolis,” and that being a police officer doesn’t “make us any less of a human.”
“Noor has a good heart and the pain and suffering from that night are going to follow him for the rest of his life, which seems to be a pretty large punishment in itself,” Harrity said. “I know the emotional struggles he is dealing with, as am I.”
Defense attorneys had argued for a sentence as light as probation. But Quaintance brushed aside the pleas for leniency and handed Noor a term identical to state sentencing guidelines.
Harrity was driving the police SUV that night when Noor shot through the open driver’s-side window and killed Damond, 40, as she approached the vehicle at the end of the alley.
A court representative said Harrity’s email and 14 other statements were not included in a previously-released batch of 44 letters regarding Noor’s sentencing because they were sent directly to the judge. MPR News made a public data request to the court for the statements.
Some who described themselves as Damond’s friends asked the judge that Noor not serve any prison time. Catherine Board wrote that Damond would have forgiven Noor in an instant.
“Justine would want whatever is the best decision for humanity,” Board wrote.
Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, in a statement read in court, asked for the maximum sentence and called her killing “an obscene act by an agent of the state.”
Noor testified at trial that a loud bang on the squad car startled him and his partner and that he fired to protect his partner’s life. But prosecutors criticized Noor for shooting without seeing a weapon or Damond’s hands. In April, a jury convicted him of third-degree murder and second-degree
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