‘Mental state’ of US policeman who shot Australian key to his defence

Los Angeles: The mental state of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor when he shot dead Australian yoga instructor Justine Damond-Ruszczyk and a "ludicrous" statement by his partner have emerged as potential keys to the murder trial.

Australian Justine Damond was fatally shot by a policeman in the US. Credit:Facebook

New court filings by prosecutors also revealed Noor, who has refused to speak publicly about the shooting, gave what appears to be "his first version of the facts since the incident occurred 17 months ago to a defence investigator and a defence expert witness".

Noor was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department last March after he was charged with the second and third-degree murder of Ms Damond-Ruszczyk.

He faces up to 40 years' jail if convicted at the April 1 trial in Minneapolis.

"The key issue in this trial is the defendant's mental state and intent at the time of the shooting," prosecutors wrote in one of Friday's filings to Minnesota's District Court.

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor arrives at the Hennepin County Government Centre for a hearing in Minneapolis in May, 2018.Credit:AP

"The defendant will claim that he used force because he believed that he and his partner's lives were in danger."

Noor allegedly shot Ms Damond-Ruszczyk dead as she approached his police vehicle in an alley near her home just before midnight on July 15, 2017.

The 40-year-old, originally from Sydney, had called 911 after hearing a woman's screams near the alley.

Prosecutors described Ms Damond-Ruszczyk's Minneapolis neighbourhood as the lowest crime area of the city.

Noor and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, drove up the alley and were sitting in their squad car when unarmed Ms Damond-Ruszczyk, dressed in her pyjamas, approached.

Noor is accused of shooting across Officer Harrity and out the window, striking the Australian in the stomach.

Prosecutors believe if Noor elects not to testify at the trial Noor's lawyers will "attempt to prove the defendant's alleged fear primarily through the testimony of his partner, Officer Harrity".

"Even if the defendant does testify, the defendant's affirmative defence of reasonable force is going to centre around Officer Harrity, specifically Officer Harrity's ludicrous statement that being approached by someone in the lowest crime area of the city was somehow the scariest moment of his life," prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors also flagged they will attempt to show the jury three prior acts Noor allegedly performed as a police officer "to prove the defendant's common scheme or plan of unnecessarily escalating force, his intent and state of mind at the time of the crime, and that he committed the crime without justifiable accident or mistake".

In one of the alleged acts prosecutors said Noor, just two months before the shooting of Ms Damond-Ruszczyk, "unjustifiably pointed his gun at a motorist during a traffic stop".

The other two related to Noor allegedly not responding to police calls.

"Simply put, the likelihood that, within two months, the defendant twice made an innocent mistake in assessing the need to confront an unarmed citizen with a loaded handgun is low," prosecutors wrote.


Source: Read Full Article