A US court has dismissed the third degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis cop Mohamed Noor for mistakenly killing Australian Justine Damond.
Noor was convicted of third degree murder and second degree manslaughter in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual US-Australian citizen who called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home .
He was sentenced to 12 and a half years for murder but was not sentenced for manslaughter.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruling means his murder conviction is overturned and the case will be referred to district court, where he will be convicted of manslaughter. He has already served over 28 months of his murder sentence.
If he is sentenced to four years for manslaughter, he may be eligible for supervised release at the end of this year.
In its ruling, the court also clarified what would constitute third degree murder or depraved mind murder, saying the law does not apply if an accused’s actions are directed against a particular person.
Caitlinrose Fisher, a lawyer who worked on Noor’s appeal, said she was grateful the Supreme Court had clarified the law and hoped this would lead to greater fairness and consistency in prosecution rulings.
“We said from the start that it was a tragedy but it was not a murder, and now the Supreme Court has agreed and recognizes it,” she said.
Noor’s defense team also issued a joint statement, saying “fairness has been respected” and that Noor was looking forward to hugging his son as soon as possible.
Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman, whose office pursued the case, said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s analysis but had to accept the decision.
Freeman said the conviction for second degree manslaughter was valid and fair.
Messages left for Damond’s fiancé were not immediately returned and an email sent to his family in Australia was returned with an automated reply.
The ruling could give former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin grounds to challenge his own third degree murder conviction for the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
But that wouldn’t have much of an impact on Chauvin since he was also convicted of the more serious charge of second degree murder and is serving a sentence of 22 and a half years on that count.
Experts say Chauvin is unlikely to be successful in appealing his second degree murder conviction.
The decision in the Noor case has also been closely watched for its possible impact on three other former Minneapolis officers awaiting trial for Floyd’s death.
Prosecutors had wanted to add charges of aiding third degree murder against them, but that’s unlikely now.
The three men are to be tried in March for aiding and abetting second degree murder and manslaughter.
The attorney general’s office, which is pursuing the case, said it was reviewing the decision.
Noor testified during his trial in 2019 that a loud bang on his patrol car made him fear for his life and that of his partner, so he reached out to his partner from the passenger seat and pulled the gun out. driver’s window.
Fisher said on Wednesday that Noor “really believed he was saving his partner’s life that night, and instead he tragically caused the loss of an innocent life … I think just reaffirming that a mistake like this is not murder will mean more than words can say. “