The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the third degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who shot dead a 911 caller four years ago.
Noor was also found guilty of second degree manslaughter in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond on July 15, 2017, and that verdict is still in effect.
The former officer will be sentenced again for the sole manslaughter conviction, as opposed to the 12-and-a-half-year sentence he was given in 2019 for murder.
Noor should be sentenced to four years in prison for manslaughter, according to his appeal lawyer Peter Wold.
The former officer is expected to be eligible for release after doing two-thirds of his time, which means he could be free by the end of this year, the lawyer said. Noor has been behind bars since his conviction on April 30, 2019.
“I spoke to Mo this morning. It’s a relief, a great relief,” Wold told NBC News. “He has a young son and it is time for them to get back together.”
The High Court ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove that Noor acted with a “depraved mind, with no regard for human life”, which would be necessary for the third degree murder conviction.
This law has always been used in cases where an accused is accused of endangering multiple people and not targeting a single person, according to the court.
Prosecutors had argued that Noor fit that description because his fatal shot at Damond could also have injured the officer’s partner or a passing cyclist.
The court ruled that it was clear that Noor was only targeting the woman he had killed.
“In summary, our precedent confirms that Noor is correct in asserting that a person does not commit depraved mind murder when the person’s actions are directed against a particular victim,” the judge said. Chief Lorie Gildea.
“Excluding a particular person is just another way of saying that the mental state for depraved mind murder is one of general malice.”
Damnod had called 911 that night, believing he heard a woman in his neighborhood being assaulted. When Damond came out to greet the police, she surprised the officers who responded, Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity, officers said.
Noor fired, killing Damond, the innocent calling 911. Police could never conclude that there had been an assault in the Damond neighborhood.