A Minnesota jury on Tuesday found former Minnesota police officer Mohamed Noor guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the 2017 case of Justine Damond, whom Noor shot dead after she called 911 to report a possible rape.
Officer Noor, a Somalia-born Muslim, testified that after the 911 call, he and his partner Matthew Harrity were checking out an alley behind the Damond residence when they heard a loud bang on the car. Noor said he saw a blond woman in a pink shirt raise her arm at Harrity’s window, and claimed he fired to protect his partner’s life.
According to testimony from the medical examiner, Noor’s bullet struck an abdominal artery and the 40-year-old Australian-American, who was to be married within a month, lost so much blood that prompt medical attention might not have saved her. It also emerged in testimony that officer Harrity first mentioned the bang on the car three days after his partner Noor shot Damond. Neither officer mentioned it at the scene, and Mohamed Noor refused to speak with state investigators.
As prosecutors noted, no forensic evidence proved that Damond even touched the squad car, as the shooter Mohamed Noor claimed. The Somali-born Muslim, 33, had been a prize police recruit, celebrated as an example of diversity. After charges were filed, Noor lost his job but the local police association supported him.
Six of the 12 jurors, including the two women, were “people of color.” They took less then 12 hours to find Noor guilty. Damond’s family was satisfied with the verdict, but not Noor’s cousin Goth Ali, who told reporters ““What happened was injustice. This is shocking. My cousin didn’t get a fair trial.” The Somali-American Police Association (SAPA) felt likewise.
Officer Noor was “the first police officer in Minnesota's history to be convicted of murder while in the line of duty,” SAPA said in a statement. “The institutional prejudices against people of color, including officers of color, have heavily influenced the verdict of this case. The aggressive manner in which the Hennepin County Attorney's Office went after Officer Noor reveals that there were other motives at play other than serving justice.”
The 2017 Minnesota murder might have also been the first case of an officer shooting an innocent, unarmed 911 caller, rather than the criminal suspect the victim was calling about. After Noor shot Justine Damond, police did not track down the rape suspect who touched off her call.
In recent years, police shootings have launched violent protests, even when one of the officers is African American, as was the case with the 2018 Stephon Clark shooting in Sacramento. By contrast, Mohamed Noor’s shooting of Justine Damon drew less attention from national media.
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar told reporters the guilty verdict for Noor was “an important step toward justice” but also tweeted about officers who killed “people of color.” The Somalia-born representative, on record that “some people did something” on 9/11, also called for accountability in all officer-involved shootings.
President Trump did not mention the Noor case in an April visit to Minnesota. Rep. Omar had been complaining that the president’s video about her 9/11 statement “is endangering lives.” The president continued to criticize Omar’s “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Israel” comments. At this writing, CAIR has yet to issue a statement on Noor’s murder and manslaughter verdict.
Prosecutors denied race had played any role in the Noor case and contended that the verdict would stand on appeal. Despite the conviction, there was no evidence that Noor carefully planned the shooting. On the other hand, planning was indeed the case with Army veteran and Muslim convert Mark Domingo, whose plans included more than placement of bombs at a “white supremacist” event in Long Beach. According to U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna, Domingo supported violent jihad and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
“America needs another Vegas event,” Domingo posted online, to weaken America by giving them “a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world.” According to investigators, Domingo, discussed “picking off Jews walking to synagogue, shooting police officers or attacking a church or military base.”
The Muslim convert, who had been kicked out of the Army, opted for an improvised explosive device packed with eight pounds of nails. He spoke of “martyrdom,” but if he survived the bombing he planned to launch an attack on a train, or the port of Long Beach. Domingo called the bombs “presents” and considered postponing the attack while he finished reading the Quran and experienced the month of Ramadan. Police got to him first. As U.S. attorney Nick Hanna explained:
This is a case in which law enforcement was able to identify a man consumed with hate and bent on mass murder, and stop him before he could carry out his attack. The criminal case outlines a chilling terrorism plot that developed over the past two months and targeted innocent Americans that he expected to gather this past weekend.
Domingo, 26, is charged with providing material support to terrorists and awaits trial. Mohamed Noor, meanwhile, will be sentenced on June 7. The former officer could draw 15 years on the murder conviction and up to five years on manslaughter.