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The former Minneapolis officer who killed the caller on 911 must be released

MINEAPOLIS – A former Minneapolis police officer who shot dead a unarmed woman who called 911 to report possible sexual assault in the driveway behind her home is scheduled to be released from prison next week, months after his murder sentence was overturned. and he was sentenced to a lesser charge.

Mohamed Noor, 36, is due to be released on Monday, 18 days before the fifth anniversary of the fatal shooting of Justin Ruschik Diamond, a 40-year-old American-Australian citizen and yoga teacher who was engaged to marry.

Nur was initially convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter, but last year the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned his murder sentence and 12 1/2-year sentences, saying the murder charge did not apply to the circumstances of the case. He was sentenced to four years and nine months on manslaughter.

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In Minnesota, a well-behaved defendant is expected to serve two-thirds of his prison sentence, and the rest will be released under supervision, commonly known as parole. The DOC website says Noor will be a controlled release until January 24, 2024.

Diamond’s father, John Ruschik, said on Friday that the family was disappointed that Nur’s third-degree murder sentence had been overturned.

“His release after a minor sentence shows great disrespect for the wishes of the jury, which represented the communities in Minneapolis, and their desire to make a statement about the expectations of the communities for police behavior and actions,” Ruschik wrote in response to questions sent by The Associated Press.

Diamond’s stepmother, Marian Heffernan, said in a telephone interview that the timing of Noor’s release – so close to the anniversary of Diamond’s death – was painful.

“We are very disappointed. But we are not surprised. “We’ve been watching what happened in Minneapolis for miles, and we’re still puzzled by the indictment, and we’re still puzzled about the culture of the Minneapolis police department,” Heffernan said, adding that he believed Nur was a product of a “very dysfunctional department.”

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Following his conviction, Noor began serving his time in maximum security prison in Minnesota in Oak Park Heights, but the Star Tribune reported that he was transferred to a facility in North Dakota in July 2019 for his own safety. Punishment spokesman Nicholas Kimball said Noor was still out of state, but did not specify where.

“For safety reasons, we are unable to provide more details than what is available on the public website, which is the planned release date,” Kimball said.

It was unclear whether Nur would return to Minnesota. His lawyer, Tom Plunkett, declined to comment, saying: “At this point, I just want to respect Mr Noor’s confidentiality.”

Diamond’s assassination angered US and Australian citizens and led to the resignation of the Minneapolis police chief. He also made the department change its policy on body cameras; Noor and his partner did not activate theirs when they investigated Diamond’s 911 call.

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Nur testified during his trial in 2019 that he and his partner were driving slowly in an alley when a hard blow to their police jeep made him fear for their lives. He said he saw a woman appear in front of her partner’s driver’s window and raise her right hand before firing from the passenger seat to stop what she considered a threat.

Diamond was a meditation teacher and life coach who was killed about a month before his wedding. Her maiden name was Justin Ruschik, and although she was not yet married, she already used her fiancé’s last name.

Her fiancé, Don Diamond, declined to comment on Nur’s impending release, but said during Nur’s outrage that he had forgiven the former officer and that he had no doubt that Justin would also forgive him “for your inability to control your emotions. night. ”

Nur, a Somali American, was considered the first Minnesota officer to be convicted of murder for firing on duty. Activists, who have long called for officials to be held accountable for the deadly use of force, applauded the murder sentence.

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Following Noor’s conviction, former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, a black man who was pressed to the sidewalk below Chauvin’s knee. Chauvin’s colleague, Thomas Lane, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting manslaughter, while two other officers are awaiting trial on charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter. All four have been convicted on federal charges of violating Floyd’s rights.

In another case, former Brooklyn Center employee Kim Potter was convicted of manslaughter after saying she mistaken a taser with her pistol when she fatally shot down Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black driver, while stopping last year.

John Ruschik said in an email to the AP that his family believed that state investigators and the Minneapolis police department had not fully cooperated in the investigation into his daughter’s murder and that he was concerned about the agency’s culture.

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He said he believed the department accepted the use of violence as a way to control challenging situations that he said contributed to her death. He cites a recent report by the State Department of Human Rights, which found that the agency had been involved in a model of racial discrimination for at least a decade, including more frequently used force against black people. Federal authorities are also investigating whether the department participated in a pattern of discrimination.

“How could officers take to the streets as defenders of public safety and order with an attitude towards their duties and responsibilities that allows them to shoot first and ask questions later?” He wrote.

Days after Noor’s conviction, Minneapolis agreed to pay $ 20 million to the Diamond family, which at the time was considered the largest deal stemming from police violence in Minnesota. It was surpassed last year when Minneapolis agreed to a $ 27 million deal for Floyd’s death just as Chauvin was on trial.

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Floyd’s assassination led to retribution for police brutality and discrimination involving people of color. The department is facing calls for greater accountability, and the state is recommending several changes as it seeks an enforceable court order for consent. City leaders continue to discuss how to change the system.

She said that at the trial against him, the family was told that Diamond’s death would lead to change, but when Floyd was killed, “we were absolutely broken because nothing had changed. We felt that Justin’s death meant nothing … It was forgotten. “

But Heffernan said Diamond is remembered by people in Australia and her family thinks of her every day. On the anniversary of her death, they go quietly to her favorite beach and throw pink flowers – her favorite color – into the surf as the sun rises.

She added that once a month during the summer, her family sends flowers to the scene of Diamond’s murder, as well as to her birthday and July 15, the day of her death.

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“She touched the hearts of many people, which I think is pretty amazing,” Heffernan said.

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This story has been updated to correct Nur’s conviction for manslaughter at four years and nine months, not 41 months.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

The former Minneapolis officer who killed the caller on 911 must be released

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