A former Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer convicted of shooting an unarmed woman in an alley behind her home was given a 12.5 year prison sentence, in a controversial case that had the ACLU crying racism.
Mohamed Noor, 33, was convicted in April of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Justine Ruszczyk Damond on the night of July 15, 2017. Damond had called to report a possible sexual assault taking place outside her home; Noor shot her as she approached his squad car.
“I felt fear,” Noor said at his sentencing Friday, but added “I knew in an instant that I was wrong” after he saw who he had shot.
Noor’s lawyers pushed for a light penalty, arguing a prison sentence would only deepen the tragedy, but Judge Kathryn Quaintance handed down the sentence recommended under Minnesota guidelines. The maximum penalty for third-degree murder in the state is 25 years.
“The act may have been based on a miscalculation, but it was an intentional act,” the judge said. “Good people sometimes do bad things.”
Convictions for officer-involved shootings are exceptionally rare, and prison terms are nearly unheard of. According to research conducted by criminologist Philip Stinson, between 900 and 1,000 such shootings take place each year, yet since 2005 only three police murder convictions have stuck. Noor is number four.
“None of these cases, cases involving police shootings, is ever easy or exactly the same,” Stinson told NBC News in March. “But today, an officer gets on the stand and says ‘I feared for my life,’ and that’s usually all she wrote. No conviction, more often than that, no charges at all.”