The Black ex-Minneapolis police officer who killed a white woman last July was set to stand trial after a judge ruled on Thursday there was enough evidence to proceed with the case. The move came after lawyers for Mohamed Noor tried to get third-degree murder and manslaughter charges dismissed to squash the possibility of a trial in Justine Ruszczyk Damond‘s death.
Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance scheduled Noor’s trial for April 1, 2019, the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported.
Noor, who was fired from the department in March, has yet to enter a plea but his attorneys said they believe he will plead not guilty by self-defense. For the time being, he remained free on bail. His lawyers were likely going to work overtime in coming up with a defense strategy, especially considering that unlike their white counterparts, cops of color who shoot unarmed civilians have typically been convicted. Time will tell whether the blue shield that has protected many officers from criminal convictions will play a role in this shooting tragedy.
Noor, who is the first police officer statewide to be charged with murder for an on-duty killing in recent years, and his defense team will also probably try to rebound after their motions were dismissed. They tried to argue that the former cop wouldn’t get a fair trial with all the media attention on the case. They also cited that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman made comments against Noor last winter that were in line with “prosecutorial misconduct and could taint prospective jurors.”
Damond’s family, of course, has demanded accountability and answers in the tragedy. The fatal shooting of Damond, 40, prompted protests and reactions from her fiance, relatives, friends and even Valerie Castile, the mother of St. Paul, Minnesota police shooting victim Philando Castile.
Prosecutors will likely go over key details from the shooting with a fine-toothed comb. They have already argued that Noor had a “depraved mind” and released excerpts of Noor’s training and psychological records as what they said was proof of him being unfit to be an officer. It was unclear how much of that evidence will be allowed to be presented during the upcoming trial.
Last July, Damond called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her Minneapolis home. She was shot by Noor as she approached a police SUV driver side window, with the ex-officer firing his weapon past his partner Matthew Harrity who was behind the wheel, prosecutors said. Noor’s lawyers have maintained that Noor opened fire out of fear after Damond hit the back of the vehicle and startled him.