Former Minneapolis police Officer Mohamed Noor was sentenced to 12½ years in prison for the fatal shooting of a woman while responding to her 911 call, a judge announced Friday in court.
Noor spoke in court to apologize to the family of Justine Ruszczyk, the woman he shot, saying he will think of her every day.
“I’ve thought and prayed about this for two years, since the time I took the life of Justine Ruszczyk,” Noor said before sentencing, according to CNN affiliate WCCO. “I’ve also been thinking about all the other lives that have been changed, and continue to be changed after this event. None of the families will ever be the same again.”
Noor said he took pride in being a police officer, WCCO reported.
“Taking a life so tragically goes against all of that. I’ve lived with this and will continue to live with this. It is my burden. I wish I could relieve that burden others feel of the (loss) I’ve caused,” Noor said. “I will think of Miss Ruszczyk and her family forever.”
The state asked for 150 months, while Noor’s attorneys requested a probationary sentence.
“Good people sometimes do bad things,” Judge Kathryn Quaintance said before announcing the sentence. She gave Noor credit for 41 days served and fined him $6,000.
‘I felt fear’
Authorities said Ruszczyk, who had relocated from her native Australia to Minneapolis to live with her fiancé, called 911 the night of July 15, 2017, to report a possible sexual assault in an alley behind her house.
Officers Matthew Harrity and Noor were dispatched to the scene and arrived at 11:37 p.m., according to a criminal complaint. Prosecutors said Noor was sitting in the passenger seat, pulled out his gun and shot across the vehicle to hit Ruszczyk, who was outside the driver’s side door.
Noor testified during the trial that Harrity’s terrified expression and the sight of Ruszczyk with her hand raised jolted him into action. Although he did not see a gun in the woman’s hand, he feared his partner might be shot as she began to raise her hand, he said.
Speaking in court Friday, Noor said: “The moment I pulled the trigger, I felt fear. The moment I walked around and saw Miss Ruszczyk dying on the ground, I felt horror. I knew in that instant that I was wrong.”
‘I miss you every day’
Noor’s attorney, Peter Wold, told the court that “there is no dispute that Noor reacted based on fear in the split seconds he reacted and shot Ms. Ruszczyk that night.”
But Hennepin County prosecutors argued that Noor overreacted and failed to assess the situation properly before firing.
Noor, a 33-year-old Somali-American, was convicted on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter on April 20. He was acquitted on a charge of second-degree murder.
He has appealed the conviction, WCCO reported.
During the sentencing hearing, Ruszczyk’s fiancé, Don Damond, read a letter in which he described weeping in a dress shop when he saw her wedding dress a week after her death.
“I miss you every day. Every moment. I’m not sure how such a thing could happen to you, to us,” Damond said, according to WCCO.
Numerous letters in support of Noor were sent to the Hennepin County court. None of them were read aloud.