8 Jun 2019

Ex-policeman gets 12-year jail term for killing Australian woman in US

7:39 am on 8 June 2019

Former US police officer Mohamed Noor has been sentenced to 12-and-a-half years' jail for fatally shooting Australian woman Justine Damond Ruszczyk through the side of his police car.

Justine Damond

Justine Damond Ruszczyk who was fatally shot by a policeman outside her home in Minneapolis. Photo: Justine Ruszczyk / LinkedIn via ABC

Noor was convicted of third degree murder and second degree manslaughter for killing Ms Damond Ruszczyk just minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her Minneapolis home in July 2017.

Judge Kathryn Quaintance said the jury members who convicted Noor had asked when the United States police culture would change.

"Will there be changes? Change is needed," she said.

"Will some of the supervising officers be fired? Why should a civilian be afraid of approaching a squad car? What about the motto on the car to serve with compassion?"

Judge Quaintance also dismissed a defence motion to acquit Noor and set aside the jury verdict.

Noor apologises to victim's family

The judge said Noor had expressed remorse for the consequences of his actions but not the murder itself.

"He does not take personal responsibility for making an erroneous decision to fire a gun at her. He has not acknowledged that he could have handled the situation in any other way," she said.

Judge Quaintance noted that a large amount of money would be going to Australia as part of the $US20 million ($A28 million) civil settlement, but said she hoped there would also be reform for locals.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 30: Mohamed Noor and his legal team arrive at the Hennepin County Government Center after the jury reached a verdict on April 30, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Mohamed Noor apologised to his victim's family at today's sentencing, however, the trial judge said he did not accept full responsibility for his actions. Photo: AFP

Just before the sentencing, Noor stood before the judge and expressed remorse.

"I've thought and prayed about this for the last two years," Noor said.

"Neither of our families will ever be the same again. I have wanted to sit with Mr Damond and tell him about what happened and extend my condolences to him.

"I have owed Ms Ruszczyk's family an apology for a long time. I did write them a letter while in jail and now I apologise in-person for taking the life of such a perfect person who was dear to them and so many others," he said.

Fiance says he wishes he told her not to call police

Ms Damond Ruszczyk's American fiancé Don Damond, who testified as a witness in Noor's trial, told the court in a five-minute-long statement that he could not convey the depth of his grief and trauma.

"How do I express the impact of the loss my beloved, my dearest friend and my future wife to be," he said.

"How do I sum up the pain and trauma of the last 23 months in this brief statement?"

He tried to do so by reading a letter to his beloved, weeping as he did so.

"I miss you so much. Every day, I don't understand how such a thing could happen," he said.

"You made my heart grow in ways I didn't think were possible. My heart aches every day."

Mr Damond apologised to Ms Damond Ruszczyk's for selling the house in which they had shared so much love and laughter but said he could not bear living in it anymore.

"I saw your wedding dress for the first time the week after you were murdered," he told the court.

He also revealed the couple had planned to travel to Egypt to try and conceive a child in the fall of 2018.

He spoke of the pain of not being able to say goodbye and he wished he had not told her to call the police when she thought she heard a woman being sexually assaulted behind their home.

"You died surrounded by strangers, some of whom did not care about you a bit. It was at my direction that you summoned your own death," he said.


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