Published On: Wed, Mar 21st, 2018

Minnesota officer charged with murdering Australian to appear in court

The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman in July was expected to make his initial court appearance on Wednesday, the day after he was charged with murder.

A Hennepin County District Court judge will set bail for Minneapolis police Officer Mohamed Noor, 32, who was charged on Tuesday in the death of Justine Damond, 40. However, Noor will not enter a plea on the third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges, the prosecutor’s office said.

The shooting drew condemnation in Minnesota and Australia, where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it “shocking” and “inexplicable.” Then-Minneapolis police Chief Jamee Harteau resigned after city officials said procedures had been violated and Damond “didn’t have to die.”

Noor’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, said his client should not have been charged in the July 2017 shooting and he was simply following his training.

Prosecutors are asking that Noor’s bail is set at $500,000.

Noor, who has been on paid leave, refused to be interviewed by Minnesota state investigators about the incident. Matthew Harrity, the officer driving the police car from which Noor shot, said he was startled by a loud sound and both officers “got spooked” when Damond appeared out of nowhere, prosecutors said.

However, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said on Tuesday that Noor acted recklessly and there was no threat that justified his use of deadly force.

The penalty for third-degree murder is up to 25 years in prison and second-degree manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 10 years, according to a state website.

Damond’s fiance, Don Damond, and her father, John Ruszczyk, issued a joint statement on Tuesday in which they praised the decision to charge Noor and hoped it resulted in a conviction.

Damond, who was living in Minneapolis, called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her house, and she approached the police after their arrival, authorities have said. She had owned a meditation and life-coaching company.

Neither Noor, who came to the United States from Somalia as a child, nor Harrity, had their body cameras activated, police have said.

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