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Justine Damond

On July 15, 2017, at about 2330, Justine Damond called the police to report a woman screaming—or perhaps merely having an enthusiastically good time—in the area somewhere behind her home in a quiet, low-crime, upscale  Minneapolis neighborhood.  The police dispatcher put out the call not as a potential rape in progress, but as nothing more than a noise complaint, and about 15 minutes later, two Minneapolis PD officers, Matthew Harrity, who was driving and Mohamed Noor, riding in the front passenger seat, arrived.  Noor had been a police officer only 21 months, Harrity, only a year.  In police terms, both were rookies.

Harrity drove through the alley behind Damond’s home with the lights off, and stopped at the end of the alley to wait for a bicyclist passing on the cross street, and to radio they found nothing and were back in service—a bored, minimal response to a boring, routine call.  Damond, who was apparently watching and likely found the officers less than thorough and interested, approached the car from Harrity’s open window.  She was carrying a cell phone, was barefoot and wearing only pajamas.

We can’t know exactly what she had in mind—she had no idea what the dispatcher told them–but she was likely puzzled by their apparent lack of interest and wanted to tell them what she heard so they could properly do their jobs, perhaps help a woman in distress.  She had no idea how badly they needed help in doing their jobs.

So unaware of their surroundings were Harrity and Noor, they caught only a flash of movement, and having no idea what that flash of movement was, were immediately terror stricken.  Noor fired a single round across Harrity’s face and chest, striking Damond in the abdomen.  She died within mere minutes.

A brilliantly ironic sign seen around Minneapolis after Damond’s death

No official account mentioned whether it was necessary for Harrity or Noor to change their underwear.

Trial testimony later established neither Harrity nor Noor saw anything any reasonable police officer could have believed to be a threat.  There was considerable ambient light present.  They didn’t see enough to identify Damond as male or female, and didn’t even see the cell phone in her hands.  Noor saw, likely only vaguely sensed, movement and he fired, an urban version of “buck fever,” where a panicky hunter shoots at movement and in so doing shoots another hunter.  Harrity did his best to minimize Noor’s incompetence, but it didn’t take any reading through the lines of the reports and testimony of the officers that responded to the “shots fired” call to realize they knew it was a bad shoot—they couldn’t figure out why Noor fired–and so did Harrity, and perhaps even Noor.

The Damond case was a perfect storm of cognitive dissonance for the Democrat/Socialist/Communist Minneapolis/Minnesota political establishment.  There was no doubt Noor acted unlawfully; there was no cause, none at all, to use even harsh words toward Damond, let alone to kill her.  But Mohamed Noor…

Noor, you see gentle readers, was a nuclear powered engine of D/S/C virtue signaling.  Not only was/is he Black and Somali—an immigrant!—he’s Muslim, a member of the “religion of peace,” a favored victim group, a shining vindication of many cherished D/S/C narratives.   It could have only been better were he female, and somehow simultaneously trans, homosexual, and some other woke box to check.  Then-Mayor Betsy Hodges had frequently and publically praised Noor as not only a light unto law enforcement, but the bright, diverse future of Minneapolis.

Former Mayor Betsy Hodges, who is not Muslim, chillin’ with girls from the ‘Hood

There is substantial evidence he was a diversity hire, hired for his checked boxes rather than any potential ability, and was “fast-tracked”—his training was cut short—onto the street and into shining diversity, inclusion, equity fame.  Any honest police officer will affirm diversity hiring and shortened training are predictors of disaster.  Those facts, however, were often denied and never confirmed by any “official” investigation.  No fact spoke more clearly and loudly than Noor’s unjustified, unjustifiable, shooting of Damond.

It was never admitted, but every sign of a panicky, confused attempt to somehow avoid charging Noor with a crime was more than obviously running in circles around the proceedings.  And of course, the arrest and prosecution of Noor was evidence of racism, though “systemic racism” hadn’t yet become a useful, sanctioned term.

Damond, her fiance Don,(center) and his son, Zach

Making it worse, the 40 year-old Justine Damond was not only female, but blonde, and an Austrailian immigrant, a legal immigrant, the fiancé of Minneapolis resident Don Damond.  An outgoing, pretty, kind and smart woman with no criminal record or other social pathologies, she died at the hands of a man who should never have been in a police car unless under arrest, because she did her civic duty and tried to help an unknown woman who might have been in trouble, or more likely, in the throes of orgasm, in a backyard hot tub, or on a lawn, lawn chair or deck.

Justine Damond rescuing ducklings

There was, to the certain horror and disgust of the Minneapolis political establishment, even recent video of Damond saving baby ducks—baby ducks!–from a storm drain.

If only Damond had been Black and Noor white, things would have been much less troubling, easy even, but no matter how much lipstick D/S/Cs tried to put on this particular pig, it was going to remain a felonious pig.  The political establishment really didn’t want to prosecute Noor, who allowed their virtue and moral and intellectual superiority to burn oh so brightly, but even D/S/Cs couldn’t ignore or message their way around the real reality of a very sympathetic Justine Damond, barefoot, in her pajamas, rapidly bleeding out in an alley, her last, gasping, plaintive words: “I’m dying.”

The prosecutor, a drunk, made a mess of things, but he had able deputies who did their duties, and Noor was eventually convicted and sentenced to 22.5 years.  The Damond family negotiated a 20 million dollar wrongful death settlement, which unusually large amount indicates the City knew if it went to trial, it would have cost them much, much more and revealed much they didn’t want revealed.

Go here for the complete SMM Damond archive, which tells the whole sordid tale.  We now turn to Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection for an update:

Mohamed Noor was convicted in the death of Australian Justine Ruszczyk Damond, in a particularly outrageous use of police deadly force. There were no riots over the killing of Justine Damond. We did not have a national conversation. Protests did not fill the streets and campuses.

A Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in the case of Noor likely will cause the Third Degree Murder conviction against Chauvin to be vacated. The court ruled, as to Noor:

‘This case comes to us following the tragic death of Justine Ruszczyk on July 15, 2017. Ruszczyk had called police that night out of concern for a woman she heard screaming behind her home. When Ruszczyk approached the police vehicle that came in response to her call, appellant Mohamed Mohamed Noor fired his service weapon at her from the passenger seat. Noor’s bullet struck Ruszczyk in the abdomen and sadly, she died at the scene.

A jury acquitted Noor of second-degree intentional murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (2020) but found him guilty of third-degree depraved-mind murder, Minn. Stat. 3 § 609.195(a) (2020), and second-degree manslaughter, Minn. Stat. § 609.205(1) (2020).

He appealed, arguing that his conviction of depraved-mind murder could not stand because his actions were directed at Ruszczyk. A divided panel of the court of appeals affirmed his conviction. State v. Noor, 955 N.W.2d 644, 664 (Minn. App. 2021).

The issue before us on appeal is not whether Noor is criminally responsible for Ruszczyk’s death; he is, and his conviction of second-degree manslaughter stands. The issue before us is whether in addition to second-degree manslaughter, Noor can also be convicted of depraved-mind murder. Because conduct that is directed with particularity at the person who is killed cannot evince ‘a depraved mind, without regard for human life,’ Minn. Stat. § 609.195(a), and because the only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the circumstances proved is that Noor directed his single shot with particularity at Ruszczyk, we conclude that he cannot. Accordingly, we reverse Noor’s conviction of depraved-mind murder and remand the case to the district court for Noor to be sentenced on the second-degree manslaughter conviction.’

We now turn to Scott Johnson of Powerline, whose coverage often mirrored mine.  Johnson linked to my coverage as I often linked to his.

Having covered the 2019 trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor for the murder of Justine Ruskcyk Damond, I attended Noor’s resentencing this morning by Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance. When I say ‘covered,’ I mean every day from inside the courtroom in a seat behind Justine’s family.

Resentencing was necessitated by the Minnesota Supreme Court decision that set aside Noor’s conviction of third-degree murder. Noor was resentenced on the lesser second-degree manslaughter offense of which he was also convicted.

Justine’s parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and Don Damond, her fiance, all provided extremely eloquent and moving victim impact statements that were read by Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Amy Sweasy and her colleague Patrick Lofton. Sweasy made a powerful argument for a sentence at the upper end of the applicable sentencing guidelines — 57 months. Defense counsel Jerome Plunkett made a brief statement on Noor’s behalf asking for a sentence at the lower end of the sentencing range of 41-57 months. Noor himself made the briefest of statements, thanking Damond for extending his forgiveness to him in his remarks.

Judge Quaintance had it within her discretion to impose a sentence anywhere between 41-57 months. Fifty-seven months was the maximum sentence that Judge Quaintance had it within her discretion to impose and that is the sentence she imposed after a brief statement reiterating her comments supporting the 12-and-a-half year sentence she had originally imposed. It was over in less than an hour.

Noor has served 30 months since he entered jail in May 2019. With credit for time served, he is scheduled for release after serving two-thirds of his sentence, meaning he’ll likely be out in May 2022.  This will no doubt please many D/S/Cs, not because justice will have been served—you don’t try to abolish the Minneapolis PD to accomplish that—but because they don’t believe Noor should have been prosecuted in the first place.  Look for them to support and praise Noor as a holy social justice martyr and icon upon his release.

And Justine Damond?  Don and Zach Damond, and her family, mourn and miss her still, and forever.  She will remain, forever, 40.