Noor case marks first murder charges for on-duty officer in Hennepin County

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor is now facing charges of third degree murder and second degree manslaughter in the death of Justine Damond last July.

Now, many are wondering what these charges mean and how they compare to past cases.

Dr. James Densely, an associate professor of Criminal Justice at Metropolitan State University, released a statement following Noor’s arrest: ”The Mohamed Noor case is now historically significant because this is the first time murder charges have been brought for a case of officer use of force in Hennepin County.”

Former Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said the case marks a turning point in police and community relations.

"This is new territory. A lot has changed in the culture of law enforcement and even more significantly in our communities, and that is a demand for transparency and a demand for accountability," she said. 

According to a study by an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, between 2005 and April 2017, there were roughly 12,000 officer-involved shootings in the U.S. 80 officers were arrested on murder or manslaughter charges and 35 percent were convicted.

Dr. Densley said Noor’s case could serve as a blueprint for future cases because it demonstrates that the grand jury process can yield criminal charges against law enforcement, something that has rarely happened in the past. 

However, Gaertner said that a conviction likely won’t come easy because the law is protective of police officers who put their life on the line to protect and serve.  

"The county attorney had a difficult task in deciding whether or not to charge this case. But the jury is going to have an even more difficult task. And my hope is the community will put faith in that jury and whatever decision that it makes," she said.