A former Minnesota police officer charged with murdering an unarmed Australian woman in July will argue that he acted in self-defense when he fired the fatal shot from his police car, a newspaper report on Wednesday said.
Mohamed Noor, 32, who has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of 40-year-old Justine Damond, will next appear in court on May 8, online court records showed.
Minnesota’s Star Tribune newspaper reported it obtained a court filing in the case made on Wednesday that said Noor intends to claim he used “reasonable force” when he shot Damond, a spiritual healer from Sydney, should the case go to trial.
The document was not available in online filings and a lawyer for Noor was not immediately available for comment.
In the July incident, Damond, who was living in Minneapolis, called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her house. When a police vehicle pulled up in an alley behind her home, she approached the driver’s side and was then shot through the door, authorities said.
The shooting drew condemnation in Minnesota and Australia, where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it “inexplicable.” Then-Minneapolis police Chief Janeé Harteau resigned after city officials said procedures had been violated and Damond “didn’t have to die.”
The Star Tribune said she was in her pajamas when she approached the car.
“How can a woman out in the street in her pajamas seeking assistance be shot like that?” Turnbull said in the interview with Australia’s television Nine Network in July.
Matthew Harrity, the officer driving the police car from which Noor shot, said he was startled by a loud sound and both officers “got spooked” when Damond appeared out of nowhere, investigators said.
Noor fired through the open driver’s-side window, striking Damond in the abdomen, they said.
Noor appeared in court last month and was later released on a bond of $500,000. He was also ordered to surrender his passport and agreed to avoid possession of any firearms.
The penalty for third-degree murder is up to 25 years in prison and second-degree manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 10 years, according to a state website.
Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, had taken the name of her fiance, Don Damond, ahead of their wedding planned for August 2017. She owned a meditation and life-coaching company, according to her personal website.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Michael Perry