MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – State prosecutors filed court papers Wednesday claiming the former Minnesota police officer who fatally shot an Australian woman last year had shown signs of a reckless disregard for human life, citing training records and his responses to prior calls.
Mohamed Noor, 32, was charged in March with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder for the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home 13 minutes before her death on July 15, 2017.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement last year that Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, had the lights on their squad car turned off while searching for a suspect, when Harrity “indicated that he was startled by a loud sound.”
Damond, who was dressed in pajamas, approached the driver’s side of the police car and Harrity said Noor fired his gun through the open window, according to the bureau. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
At the time of her death, Damond, 40, worked as a life coach and was engaged to be married. She had been living in the U.S. for more than two years.
In a response brief filed Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court, state prosecutors illustrated Noor’s state of mind before the Damond shooting and during his hiring process.
According to the court documents, a 2015 pre-hiring evaluation said Noor self-reported that he “disliked people, disliked being around people, and was disinterested in interacting with people.”
The filing also says that Noor disregarded calls during his field training program.
“While police calls were pending, the defendant drove around in circles, ignoring calls when he could have self-assigned them,” the brief states. “The pending calls were simple ones an officer working alone could easily handle, including a road hazard and a suspicious vehicle.”
Prosecutors argue that Noor’s alleged recklessness indifference before the Damond incident proves his state of mind at the time of the shooting.
About an hour before the shooting, Noor and Harrity had responded to multiple calls about a woman who may have been suffering from dementia in the same location Damond reported a woman in distress, according to court records.
Prosecutors say both Noor and Harrity “saw nothing obvious” and decided that no further investigation was necessary.
“Neither office exhibited any appreciable concern for a woman or women about whom there had been a total of five 911 calls in that short period of time,” the filing states.
The state argues Noor’s lack of effort to investigate and indifference to the woman shows his disregard for public safety.
Prosecutors also note an incident that occurred on May 18, 2017 – 58 days before the Damond shooting —when Noor pulled out his gun without justification during a routine traffic stop. According to court documents, Noor did not write a report about drawing his gun or using such force.
The state claims the former officer “abandoned all caution and duty to the public he was sworn to protect” on the night he shot Damond.
“He recklessly failed to assess the situation and intentionally fired his gun through an open car window with absolutely no idea who or what he was shooting,” the brief states. “His bullet could have easily killed or injured his partner, but instead killed Justine Ruszczyk [Damond], the unarmed 911 caller who needed his help.”
The court has denied Noor’s motion to suppress his psychological records.
Noor and Harrity are also named defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk. The complaint accuses the officers of intentionally keeping their body-worn cameras inactive so no incriminating evidence would be recorded during the incident. He seeks at least $50 million in damages.
Noor’s next court appearance in his criminal case is set for Sept. 27.