Appeals court upholds Mohamed Noor's 3rd-degree murder conviction in Justine Ruszczyk shooting

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the third-degree murder conviction for former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in the July 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. 

Ruszczyk had called 911 fearing a woman was being assaulted near her home in Minneapolis’ Fulton neighborhood. She eventually approached Noor’s squad car in the alley. 

Noor testified at trial that in that moment, he feared an ambush at the driver’s side window and he fired across his partner, killing the 40-year-old Australian woman. 

A jury found Noor guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to over 12 years in prison. 

Noor’s legal team challenged the third-degree murder statute, arguing it did not appropriately fit the crime.

In Monday’s ruling, a split three-judge panel ruled it did and the conviction will stand. 

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office agreed with the decision.

"Successful prosecutions of police officers’ unlawful use of deadly force are rare in the United States," read a statement in part from the office. "The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office charged this case because of Officer Noor’s outrageous conduct. We were criticized for bringing that charge. But our prosecutors did remarkable work and the jury agreed and found him guilty. Now the Minnesota Court of Appeals has supported our legal theory as well."

In a current high-profile case, Hennepin County initially charged former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd. That charge was eventually thrown out by Judge Peter Cahill and Chauvin instead faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.