Justine Ruszczyk Damond with fiance Don Damond and his son, Zach. Picture: Facebook
Justine Ruszczyk Damond with fiance Don Damond and his son, Zach. Picture: Facebook

Killer cop breaks silence on Justine’s death

MOHAMED Noor has taken the stand at his murder trial over the death of Australian life coach Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

In over an hour of testimony ahead of a lunch break, Noor talked about his childhood and police training.

He is yet to explain why he opened fire on the unarmed Ms Damond.

Australian woman, Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Picture: Stephen Govel
Australian woman, Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Picture: Stephen Govel

Her family, who have sat every day through his three and half week trial, have been listening intently in the front row of the public gallery.

Noor, 33, in a dark suit, blue shirt and striped tie, is soft spoken and ends many sentences with an upward inflection, answering his lawyer Thomas Plunkett's questions with "yes sir".

Before he spoke, Minneapolis Judge Kathryn Quaintance asked him he if he understood he did not need to give evidence.

"Yes your honour, I understand," he said.

His defence claims that he shot the unarmed Australian life coach because her approaching his squad car made him fear for his life.

Two veteran police officers were asked in court if Noor's decision to fire at Damond without any warning could be justified.

They both answered with an emphatic no.

Not only did her killing in July 2017, defy police training, even the use of a taser or pepper spray would have been unwarranted.

"The use of force was objectionable, unreasonable and violated police policies," Minnesota Lieutenant Derrick Hacker told prosecutor Patrick Lofton.

"No reasonable officer would have perceived a threat by somebody coming up to their squad (car).

"This whole situation could have been avoided."

 

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, centre, leaves the Hennepin County Government Center after the first day of jury selection with his lawyers Thomas Plunkett, left, and Peter Wold, in Minneapolis. Picture: AP
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, centre, leaves the Hennepin County Government Center after the first day of jury selection with his lawyers Thomas Plunkett, left, and Peter Wold, in Minneapolis. Picture: AP

Former Baltimore and Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo slammed Noor.

"If officers are not trained to handle situations like this, then we ought to be training citizens not to approach police cars," Mr Longo said.

"And that defies logic."

Prosecutors have called more than 50 witnesses before the jury and Judge Kathryn Quaintance in the murder and manslaughter trial of Noor, who was responding to a 911 call Damond made when he killed her shortly before midnight on a summer Saturday night.

The evidence from Lt Hacker, a serving Minnesota officer who was paid $A42,000 as a prosecution "use of force" expert for his time assessing the case and for testifying, was challenged by Noor's lawyers.

Mohamed Noor, the Minneapolis police officer who is accused of shooting and killing Justine Damond. Picture: Supplied
Mohamed Noor, the Minneapolis police officer who is accused of shooting and killing Justine Damond. Picture: Supplied

They argued that he was not a credible expert because he had never experienced an officer involved shooting and the only time he had fired his service revolver was to kill an "aggressive" pit bull dog.

Noor has pleaded not guilty and his defence argues that he shot Damond, 40, because he feared he was in a "classic ambush" situation after she slapped the squad car being driven by his partner Matthew Harrity.

Minneapolis Police Officer, Matthew Harrity. Picture: Angus Mordant
Minneapolis Police Officer, Matthew Harrity. Picture: Angus Mordant

Prosecutors dispute Damond touched the squad car and the court has heard conflicting evidence of when this claim was first made and who raised it.

But Lt Hacker said even if there had been a loud noise, Noor's reaction was wrong and talked through the correct response.

"You need to identify the target. Who is it? Is it a male, is it a female?" he said.

"If an officer cannot see that, then the officer is not allowed to use deadly force."

Lt Hacker said there was no justification for causing the death of Damond, who was barefoot and wearing pyjamas.

Justine Damond's father John Ruszczyk. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Justine Damond's father John Ruszczyk. Picture: Nathan Edwards

 

Justine Damond's fiance Don Damond. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Justine Damond's fiance Don Damond. Picture: Nathan Edwards

He said she "did nothing wrong".

 

"The most reasonable force in this situation would have been no force at all," Lt Hacker said.

"The slap or even the barking dog or whatever is irrelevant.

"The fact is that Ms Ruszczyk essentially approached the squad and she was shot.

"Police are approached daily. This happens routinely."

Noor has never explained his actions.



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