That other Minneapolis police death

Calls to defund or even abolish the police are ringing out across the country, sometimes accompanied by violence. The anti-police squads point to cases such as the shooting of Rayshard Brooks during an arrest attempt in Atlanta. On the other hand, a police shooting in Minneapolis three years ago, for which an officer has been tried and convicted, has not drawn the media attention it deserves. 

In 2017 Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of Australia and the United States, heard a woman being assaulted and called 911. When Minneapolis police arrived, Damond approached their car and officer Mohamed Noor shot her dead. The 40-year-old woman was to be married within a month. 

Photo credit: Linkedin via The ABC

Noor claimed he fired to protect the life of his partner, Matthew Harrity. Three days after the shooting, Harrity claimed he heard a loud bang on the squad car. None of the forensic evidence showed that the victim had even touched the car. 

“The use of force was objectionable, unreasonable and violated police policies and training,” expert witness Derrick Hacker testified during the trial in April 2019. “No reasonable officer would have perceived a threat by somebody coming up to their squad.” 

Another expert witness, Timothy Longo, who like Hacker has a law-enforcement background, told the court that a string of bad decisions led to the shooting death. “I don’t believe they were logical or rational at all,” Longo explained. “This was an unprovoked, violent response.” 

The officers had turned off their body cameras and unholstered their firearms. They also failed to telephone Damond, who had called 911 a second time to check on their arrival. She “did nothing wrong,” Hacker told the court. “Police are approached daily, this happens routinely.”

Noor’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, told the court that what “really caused” the shooting was “the fear that continues to permeate our society. The police are afraid of the people, the people are afraid of the police.” The Minneapolis jury didn’t buy it and found Noor guilty of third-degree murder.

In June 2019 Noor drew 12-and-half years in prison. Supporters claimed the term was excessive, but across the nation that is the average sentence for a cop convicted of a murder committed on duty. In Colorado, James Ashby received a 16-year sentence for killing Jack Jacquez after a confrontation in 2014. Roy Oliver, the Texas officer who shot Jordan Edwards, 15, was sentenced to 15 years.

The Somali-born Noor had been on the force for only two years, and his case raises issues of police training, procedure, and discipline. Plenty to see here, but -- no surprise -- national media and politicians neglected the case. 

In 2019 police killed nine unarmed African-Americans. That same year police killed 19 unarmed whites, and the number of cops killed on duty also outnumbers the unarmed black victims.

According to the FBI, 89 law-enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019, including 48 “felonious deaths.” In those cases, 40 officers were white, seven were black and one Asian. “Offenders used firearms to kill 44 of the 48 victim officers,” the FBI explains, including 34 slain with handguns, seven with rifles, and one with a shotgun. 

If embattled Americans believed that police reform should be based on facts not fantasies, it would be hard to blame them. 

Lloyd Billingsley is a policy fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.

Calls to defund or even abolish the police are ringing out across the country, sometimes accompanied by violence. The anti-police squads point to cases such as the shooting of Rayshard Brooks during an arrest attempt in Atlanta. On the other hand, a police shooting in Minneapolis three years ago, for which an officer has been tried and convicted, has not drawn the media attention it deserves. 

In 2017 Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of Australia and the United States, heard a woman being assaulted and called 911. When Minneapolis police arrived, Damond approached their car and officer Mohamed Noor shot her dead. The 40-year-old woman was to be married within a month. 

Photo credit: Linkedin via The ABC

Noor claimed he fired to protect the life of his partner, Matthew Harrity. Three days after the shooting, Harrity claimed he heard a loud bang on the squad car. None of the forensic evidence showed that the victim had even touched the car. 

“The use of force was objectionable, unreasonable and violated police policies and training,” expert witness Derrick Hacker testified during the trial in April 2019. “No reasonable officer would have perceived a threat by somebody coming up to their squad.” 

Another expert witness, Timothy Longo, who like Hacker has a law-enforcement background, told the court that a string of bad decisions led to the shooting death. “I don’t believe they were logical or rational at all,” Longo explained. “This was an unprovoked, violent response.” 

The officers had turned off their body cameras and unholstered their firearms. They also failed to telephone Damond, who had called 911 a second time to check on their arrival. She “did nothing wrong,” Hacker told the court. “Police are approached daily, this happens routinely.”

Noor’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, told the court that what “really caused” the shooting was “the fear that continues to permeate our society. The police are afraid of the people, the people are afraid of the police.” The Minneapolis jury didn’t buy it and found Noor guilty of third-degree murder.

In June 2019 Noor drew 12-and-half years in prison. Supporters claimed the term was excessive, but across the nation that is the average sentence for a cop convicted of a murder committed on duty. In Colorado, James Ashby received a 16-year sentence for killing Jack Jacquez after a confrontation in 2014. Roy Oliver, the Texas officer who shot Jordan Edwards, 15, was sentenced to 15 years.

The Somali-born Noor had been on the force for only two years, and his case raises issues of police training, procedure, and discipline. Plenty to see here, but -- no surprise -- national media and politicians neglected the case. 

In 2019 police killed nine unarmed African-Americans. That same year police killed 19 unarmed whites, and the number of cops killed on duty also outnumbers the unarmed black victims.

According to the FBI, 89 law-enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019, including 48 “felonious deaths.” In those cases, 40 officers were white, seven were black and one Asian. “Offenders used firearms to kill 44 of the 48 victim officers,” the FBI explains, including 34 slain with handguns, seven with rifles, and one with a shotgun. 

If embattled Americans believed that police reform should be based on facts not fantasies, it would be hard to blame them. 

Lloyd Billingsley is a policy fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.