Noor breaks silence, takes the stand at his trial

26 Avril, 2019, 19:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Mohamed Noor said he fired to stop what he thought was a threat to his partner

Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis police officer who shot dead Australian life coach Justine Damond Ruszczyk, has described how he heard a loud bang on his squad vehicle and then saw a woman in a pink shirt with blonde hair appear at his partner's window and raise her right arm.

Noor's testimony Thursday was the first time he's spoken publicly about the shooting.

A former Minneapolis police officer on trial for fatally shooting an unarmed woman cried on the witness stand and said he felt "like my whole world came crashing down" when he realized he had shot an innocent person.

Noor said he pressed his left arm over Officer Harrity's chest to protect his partner and fired a single bullet through the open window striking Ms Damond Ruszczyk.

Responding to questions from defense attorney Thomas Plunkett, Noor said he wanted to be a police officer to serve "the city of Minneapolis and the diverse communities there".

He also said that the gun of his partner, Police Officer Matthew Harrity, appeared to be stuck in its holster.

Mohamed Noor, 33, is accused of shooting US-Australian Justine Damond on 15 July, 2017 in Minneapolis.

Defense attorneys have said that Noor shot Ms Ruszczyk when she approached his squad auto because he was startled by a loud noise and thought he and his partner were being ambushed. Noor said the woman raised her right arm - and he made a split-second decision.

Mohamed Noor has not said a word until now.

"If I knew this would happen, I never would have become a cop", he said.

Noor's attorney, Tom Plunkett, asked: "Would you have discharged your weapon that evening if you were not concerned for your safety and your partner's safety?"

Prosecutor Amy Sweasy tried to discredit Mr Noor's description of a threat.

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Sweasy also attacked Noor for making a quick decision without being able to see Damond's hands, or whether she was carrying a weapon or a cellphone.

He described the unorthodox path he took to becoming an officer - he was working as a pharmaceutical analyst before deciding to switch careers - and then detailed his 29-week cadet training in 2015.

Noor testified that he had been Officer Harrity's partner since December 2016, and the pair had almost 400 hours on the job together.

Noor was sacked from the force soon after being charged. The officers had to make a quick decision about whether to shoot, Mr Noor said.

'Action is better than reaction, ' Noor said. "If you're reacting, that means it's too protect yourself".

Noor described another training exercise where he was sent to a location, heard gunshots and instead of assessing the threat, he ran toward it. An instructor shot him with a paintball gun, he said.

The death of Damond, 40, who was engaged to be married a month after her death, sparked anger and disbelief in the USA and Australia, cost the city's police chief her job and contributed to the mayor's electoral defeat a few months later.

Neither officer had their body cameras running when the Australian woman was shot, something Harrity blamed on what he called a vague policy that didn't require it.

The department toughened the policy after Damond's death to require that they be turned on when responding to a call.

Noor never talked to investigators after the shooting.

Noor testified earlier Thursday about immigrating from Somalia to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1999. He lived first in Chicago, then moved to Minneapolis, where he said he had fallen in love with the city.

"My first thought is, I'm going to make sure whatever it was is not a threat to me", Officer Harrity said.



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