Mohamed Noor
(Photo: City of Minneapolis/Associated Press)

The murder trial of an ex-Minnesota police officer who is charged with killing a 40-year-old Australian woman was expected to begin on Monday.

Mohamed Noor, 33, a Somali-American, fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond on July 15, 2017, putting a global spotlight on Minnesota and the case. It wasn’t the typical police shooting, with a white cop and Black victim, that garners headlines and launches community activists into protest rallies.

READ MORE: Police union claims black officer who killed white woman is being treated more harshly by prosecutor

In this case, Damond was white and was a spiritual healer and meditation coach. She made an emergency 911 call to report a possible rape that was occurring in an alley behind her home in Minneapolis, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Responding to Damond’s call was Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity. Harrity told investigators that while they were checking out the alley, they heard a loud noise, and when they turned around they saw Damond appear beside the open squad car. Noor fired a single shot, killing the unarmed woman.

Body cameras on both officers were deactivated at the time, as was the camera in their squad car.

READ MORE: Minneapolis cop charged with murder after shooting woman who reported a sexual assault

Noor has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder with intent, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Today his trial begins in Hennepin County District Court.

The incident makes Noor the first Minnesota police officer to face murder charges since 2016, and the second officer in the city to be prosecuted for an on-duty killing.

“I want him to pay for his crime,” Ahmed Yusuf, a local Somali-American writer who wrote a book on what it’s like to be Somalian living in Minnesota, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I want the victim to get [her] justice. But on the other hand … how many of his profession have gotten away with this kind of crime? How many of them?”

READ MORE: Minneapolis Police Chief resigns in wake of Justine Damond shooting

Notable defense attorneys say Noor’s chances of being acquitted are middling.

“As far as I’ve read, it’s 50-50 as far as who will win the case,” offered up Earl Gray, an attorney who successfully represented St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in 2017 and got Yanez acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castile, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It’s going to be a difficult case for both sides.”


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