Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor who killed an unarmed Australian woman named Justine Damond while on duty was wrapping up his trial for the shooting this week. The Somali-American was using the same defense many cops who shot and killed unarmed people have used, but time will only tell if this strategy can work for a Black man.
After the prosecution rested its case earlier this week, Noor, who didn’t even speak to investigators at the time of the shooting, finally broke his silence while testifying Thursday.
Noor said he was in fear for him and his partner, Matthew Harrity, when he saw a woman in a pink shirt with blond hair outside of his partner’s window, prompting him to yell, “Oh Jesus!” Noor claimed the woman raised her right arm. “I fired one shot,” he said before adding, “My intent was to stop the threat and save my partner’s life.”
He said he immediately realized he had shot an innocent woman.
“I felt like my whole world came crashing down. I couldn’t breathe,” said Noor, who described feeling great pain. Noor cried on the stand and said if he knew something like this would happen, “I would never have become a cop.”
Noor also explained his “counter-ambush” training, which is a mock scenario where two officers are in a squad car and an instructor yells “Threat!” The officers make a quick decision about whether to shoot.
“Action is better than reaction,” Noor insisted. “If you’re reacting, that means it’s too late … to protect yourself. … You die.”
The Associated Press reported that the prosecution “pounced on that during her cross-examination, asking Noor if he believed ‘concern’ was enough to fire his weapon. Noor said it was when looking at all the circumstances and to protect himself and Harrity from death or great bodily harm. [Prosecutor Amy] 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.”
Noor is 33 and became a police officer in 2016.
On the evening of July 15, 2017, around 11:30 p.m., Damond, 40, called 911 to report a possible assault near her house. Harrity and Noor were the officers who arrived on the scene.
The officer’s body cameras weren’t on and there isn’t a video of the shooting.
Noor was ultimately fired from the department. The Star Tribune reported that Noor pleaded not guilty, “arguing that he acted in self-defense when he fired the fatal shot from inside his police SUV” and intends to claim “he used ‘reasonable force’ when he shot Damond should the case goes to trial.”