Minneapolis police officer found guilty in shooting death of unarmed woman who called 911

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor walks through the skyway with his attorney Thomas Plunkett, left, on the way to court in Minneapolis on Friday, April 26, 2019. -
Leila Navidi Star Tribune via AP file
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A former Minnesota police officer was found guilty of murder on Tuesday for shooting an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a possible rape behind her home.

The jury convicted Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of the United States and Australia, on July 15, 2017.

The jury could have opted for the top charge of second-degree murder or lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter.

Noor, who was fired by from the Minneapolis Police Department after being charged, now faces a maximum of 12 1/2 years behind bars for third-degree murder.

The former officer was found not guilty of second-degree murder.

Noor took the stand in his own defense last week, telling jurors he believed Damond was armed and was within point-blank range of his partner, Matthew Harrity when he fired his weapon.

The jury started deliberation Monday afternoon. The panel was sequestered as soon as deliberations began.

Noor and his partner drove into Damond's south Minneapolis neighborhood when, the driver Harrity testified, he thought he heard a thump on the hood of their car.

Noor testified he saw a woman — who turned out to be Damond — with her arms outside Harrity's window and then fired, believing he was saving his partner's life.

"He turned to me with fear in his eyes," Noor said of his partner. "His gun appeared caught in his holster."

Noor told jurors he saw a blonde woman at Harrity's driver's side window and believed she was raising an arm.

"I fired one shot and the threat was gone," Noor, a Somali-American immigrant, told jurors.

Stephen Govel Photography
Justine DamondStephen Govel Photography

Both officers had body cameras but they were not turned on at the moment of the shooting

Investigators found no forensic evidence that Damond had touched or slapped the squad car before she was shot.

No evidence of a sexual assault was ever found.

The tragic killing was an international incident as loved ones of Damond, a 40-year-old life coach originally Sydney, from half a world away demanded justice.

The woman's dad, John Ruszczyk, has filed a $50 million federal lawsuit against Noor, Harrity, the city and police leaders, claiming a civil rights violation. That case is on hold until the criminal case is finished.