On Wednesday morning, former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor has presented his oral arguments for appeal on his third-degree murder conviction to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Noor was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder for shooting and killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017.
The incident unfolded when Noor responded to a 911 call from Ruszczyk Damond, saying she heard a woman under attack. Ruszczyk Damond approached Noor’s squad car, where he and his partner sat, when he fired off his weapon hitting and killing her.
Noor was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the charges brought against him.
Now, Noor is asking for the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the third-degree murder charge after it was upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeals when Noor’s team appealed it in February.
The state supreme court’s decision on the appeal will have far-reaching ramifications for future cases involving police-related deaths, including fatal shootings.
The state statute for third-degree murder says that a person commits third-degree murder if they "causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life."
"That’s it," Caitlinrose Fisher, Noor’s attorney, said after quoting the statute. "There are no other requirements, and there are no other disqualifiers."
Noor’s team says that he can’t have committed third-degree murder because the “depraved mind” element of the third-degree murder conviction requires that the “eminently dangerous” act is not explicitly directed at a particular person.
This leads to Fisher’s main argument; Noor acted in sound mind and body but took an “unreasonable risk,” as the jury put it. Noor also was
“This has been and is intended to be a narrow crime,” Fisher said when talking about the third-degree murder charge. "When we’re talking about treating an unintentional death as a murder, that is a narrow class of cases."
This case was brought back into the spotlight following the death of George Floyd and the trial for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is responsible for killing Floyd. Some believe that the result of Noor’s appeal could lead to an appeal for Chauvins own third-degree murder conviction, but it will not affect his sentencing as much, as he was also convicted of second-degree murder.