Minneapolis Police Officer Sentenced to 12 Years After Shooting Unarmed Australian Yoga Teacher
In April, Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017
A Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an Australian yoga instructor has finally received his sentencing, nearly two years since the fatal incident.
Noor’s sentencing comes two months after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder for Ruszczyk Damond’s death.
In July 2017, Ruszczyk Damond called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her house but was shot by Noor, 33, when she approached the police squad car in the alleyway behind her Minneapolis home. The officers in the vehicle were reportedly not wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting.
The incident occurred just one month before the yoga instructor was set to marry her fiancé Don Damond. Ahead of their summer wedding, Ruszczyk Damond had already publicly taken his last name.
During the court hearing on Friday, which was attended by Ruszczyk Damond’s family and fiancé, Noor said the shooting was a mistake and that he will live with the regret of “taking the life of a perfect person” for the rest of his life.
“I have lived with this and I will continue to live with this,” Noor said, according to CBS News. “I caused this tragedy and it is my burden. I wish though that I could relieve that burden others feel from the loss that I caused. I cannot, and that is a troubling reality for me.”
“The depth of my error has only increased from that moment on,” he told the courtroom. “Working to save her life and watching her slip away is a feeling I can’t explain. … It leaves me sad, it leaves me numb, and feeling incredibly lonely. But none of that, none of those words capture what it truly feels like.”
He also told the judge that he pulled the trigger in a “split-second decision” for fear that he and his fellow officer were being ambushed after hearing a loud bang and seeing Ruszczyk Damond approach the car with her right arm raised, BBC News reports.
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Ruszczyk Damond’s loved ones, meanwhile, issued their own statements about the tragedy and noted how they were still struggling to cope with her loss.
“Dear Justine, I miss you so much every day, every moment,” Damond, her fiancé, told the courtroom, per BBC News. “I don’t understand how such a thing could happen to you and to us.”
Her father John Ruszczyk added that “Justine’s death has left me incomplete — it is as if I have lost a limb or a leg. I have lost my daughter, I have lost those private conversations over tea.”
He also referred to the slaying as “an obscene act by an agent of the state,” according to the outlet.
After hearing the statements, in which Noor reportedly sat emotionless with his eyes closed, he was transferred to the most secure unit at Minnesota’s maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights for his own safety, CBS News reports.
Outside of the courtroom, Somali-American protestors stood with signs, arguing that Noor, who is Somali, and his case were treated differently than those involving white officers and African American victims, according to BBC News.
Some of those signs read “”No double standard” and “NOOR: Victim of Identity Politics,” while another one with reading, “Black, Muslim, Immigrant and Guilty” with checked boxes next to each word.
According to the outlet, Ruszczyk Damond’s family were offered $20 million in compensation by the city of Minneapolis last month. They reportedly plan to donate $2 million of that sum to causes that advocate against gun violence.