US policeman who shot dead Australian woman sentenced to 57 months
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was sentenced to 57 months in prison for the fatal shooting of an Australian woman(AFP)

A former Minneapolis police officer was sentenced to 57 months in prison on Thursday for the fatal shooting of an Australian woman who had called 911 to report a crime.

Mohamed Noor, 36, was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in a case that shocked this Minnesota city and sparked outrage in the victim's home country.

Noor was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison on the murder charge but his conviction was overturned last month by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Kathryn Quaintance sentenced Noor on Thursday to 57 months in prison on the manslaughter charge -- the maximum allowable -- with credit for the 908 days he has already spent in custody.

Damond, a yoga teacher with dual US-Australian nationality, was shot after Noor and his partner responded in their police cruiser to a late-night report made by Damond of a possible sexual assault.

The 40-year-old Damond, who was barefoot and wearing pink pajamas, had approached their squad car after calling 911 twice to report a possible rape in the dark alley behind the home where she lived with her American fiance. No such assault was found to have occurred.

Quaintance said Noor had shot "across the nose of his partner" from the passenger seat of the police car and endangered the public when he killed Damond.

During his trial, Noor testified that he feared an ambush and shot Damond to protect his partner.

But prosecutors insisted the shooting was unreasonable and contrary to police department training policy.

Shot in the abdomen, Damond died at the scene.

'Went very much awry'

Her death came at a time of heightened tensions over officer-involved shootings in the United States and Quaintance -- without mentioning his name -- made a reference to the case of George Floyd, who was murdered in Minneapolis in May 2020 by police officer Derek Chauvin.

"The citizens of Minneapolis have now paid out $47 million in settlements for allegations of police negligence and malfeasance," the judge said.

"Why are officers more concerned about their personal safety than the safety of the public?," she asked. "Why should a civilian have to be afraid of approaching a squad car?"

"No one who heard the testimony in this case or who works in the criminal justice system can question the difficulty of a patrol officer's job or the dedication of the majority of the police and first responders," she said.

"But here, something went very much awry."