A former US police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman in Minneapolis has lost an appeal to throw out his murder conviction.
A divided Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the conviction of Mohamed Noor, who killed Aussie Justine Damond in July 2017 and is serving a 12.5-year prison sentence.
She had called police after hearing a woman screaming in an alley near her Minneapolis home. Mr Noor and a colleague responded to the call but found nothing in the alley and decided to head to their next job.
But when something “hit” the police car and “some sort of a murmur” was heard, both officers reached for their guns, the colleague testified.
The colleague heard a “pop” and saw a flash and realised Mr Noor had fired his gun. He got out to find Ms Damond on the ground, saying either “I’m dying” or “I’m dead”.
She was wearing a pink shirt and pyjama bottoms and had dropped a gold-speckled mobile phone next to her, the colleague previously told a court.
Mr Noor, who had testified he perceived the woman as a “threat” because she raised her arm, wanted a conviction for third-degree murder to be thrown out.
He argued the jury that sealed his fate didn’t have enough proof to justify the conviction. Nor did it have enough proof to decide he acted outside of his authorisation to use deadly force as a police officer, he argued.
Two out of three appeals court judges agreed there was enough evidence to uphold the conviction for third-degree murder. A third judge on the panel wanted to instead convict Mr Noor for the lesser crime of second-degree manslaughter but was overruled.
“The evidence at trial was sufficient to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Noor committed third-degree murder (…) even though his death-causing act was directed at a single person and the result of a split-second decision,” the majority wrote in their decision.
All three judges agreed there was enough evidence to disprove Mr Noor’s defence that he acted within his right to use deadly force. And the entire panel agreed he was afforded the right of a public and proper trial.
The decision was made public late on Monday night, Australian time.
Mr Noor’s lawyer has said he would ask Minnesota’s Supreme Court to consider the case.
The murder victim, who went by her married name Justine Damond but is referred to by the last name Ruszczyk in court papers, was a dual US-Australian citizen who grew up in Sydney’s Manly suburb.