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Former Cop Mohamed Noor Convicted of Murdering Justine Damond

Former Cop Mohamed Noor Convicted of Murdering Justine Damond

An objectively unreasonable fear of harm cannot justify defensive force

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/minneapolis-police-officer-found-guilty-shooting-death-unarmed-woman-who-n999706

This Case of the Week covers Somali refugee Mohamed Noor, who while a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Justine Damond.

Yesterday a jury convicted Noor of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for that killing, reports the Minnesota Star Tribune and other news sources. (Noor was acquitted of the more serious charge of second-degree murder.)

The facts of the case are relatively undisputed: On July 15, 2017, Ms. Damond called 911 to report a possible rape taking place in the alley behind her home. Then-Officer Noor along with his partner Officer Matthew Harrity (driving their patrol car) rolled through the alley to investigate.

Ms. Damond was approaching the patrol car to talk with the officers when she was spotted by Noor, who was in the passenger seat of the patrol car. Noor immediately drew his service pistol and fired a round across the front of his partner, through the driver’s side window, and shot Damond fatally in the abdomen.

While the facts are relatively undisputed, their proper interpretation was not. As reported this week in the Star Tribune:

Prosecutors argued at trial that Noor violated his training and national police standards when he shot Damond instead of identifying her first and addressing her verbally. Defense attorneys said Noor relied on common police training to eliminate a threat when she appeared next to his squad car in the middle of the night and raised her arm in a fashion that he interpreted as an ambush.

Much of the Prosecution’s case focused on apparent efforts by the Minneapolis Police Department and the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to cover up incriminating evidence in the case. Again to quote the Star Tribune report:

The prosecution’s sprawling case against Noor raised alarming questions about Minneapolis police conduct and the BCA. Assistant [Prosecutors] crafted a picture of police secrecy from the shooting’s immediate aftermath to trial, showing that several officers turned off their body cameras at the scene, accusing a key supervisor of inventing the story that Noor and Harrity heard a loud noise on their squad before the shooting, and calling out dozens of officers for refusing to speak with investigators until compelled by a grand jury.

Unhelpful to the defense was Noor’s own checkered record as a police officer. As we noted in our blog post of December 2, 2018, “Murder 2 Charge Added Against ex-Cop Mohamed Noor,” Noor was at best a troubled officer:

In two years as a police officer, Noor had three formal complaints against him, two of which, as of September 2017, are pending resolution. In a separate case from May 2017, he is being sued for allegedly assaulting a woman.

Following the deadly shooting, the Star Tribune reported Noor’s police training had been “fast-tracked”; some suburban police departments see the cadet programs as a way to add diversity to their police forces. Noor’s police training had been part of the cadet program for the Minneapolis Police Department, an accelerated seven-month program aimed at candidates who already have a college degree and wish to enter law enforcement.

In September 2018, it was revealed that in 2015 two psychiatrists and other training officers had raised questions about Noor’s fitness for police duty.

In terms of self-defense law, the key element successfully targeted here by the prosecution was that of objective reasonableness. That is, even if one takes Noor at his word and accepts that he subjectively perceived Damond as an imminent deadly force threat, was that belief objectively reasonable? Would a reasonable and prudent person under the same or similar circumstances have shared that subjective perception?

A mere “bare fear,” an unreasonable or irrational subjective fear, is not sufficient to justify a use of force. That subjective fear, however much held in genuine good faith, must also be objectively reasonable. And objective reasonableness is evaluated by applying our powers of reason to the actual evidence available to the defendant at the time of the use of force Was the evidence such that a reasonable and prudent person in the same circumstances would infer the presence of an imminent deadly force threat?

If so, then Noor’s shooting of Damond could have been said to have fallen into the category of “awful but lawful” self-defense shootings. It may well be that an actual threat did not exist, but the law does not require an actual threat. A reasonably perceived threat is enough.

We are not required to make perfect decisions in self-defense, we’re merely required to make reasonable decisions in self-defense. Reasonable decisions, even if mistaken, are sufficient to justify a use of defensive force, even deadly defensive force (assuming the other required elements of the self-defense claim are also present).

The jury in Noor’s trial obviously declined to accept that Noor’s perception of Damond as presenting an imminent deadly force threat was an objectively reasonable perception, and they convicted him accordingly.

I would hope that none of us would be likely to be carrying Noor’s type of baggage into any defensive use of force in which we might be compelled to participate, that doesn’t mean that the rules applied to evaluate the lawfulness (or not) of our use of force will be any different. than those applied to Noor.

It’s the same rules for everybody. Your use of defensive force must be objectively reasonable, or your claim of self-defense justification for that use of force will fail.

And given that self-defense requires at least an implicit concession that it was you who committed the underlying act, the failure of self-defense is generally a walk-away conviction for the prosecution.

Remember:

You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.

Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

–Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

P.S. If you enjoy this kind of self-defense law content, I encourage you to visit the Law of Self Defense Blog, where we always have similar content available free, usually daily.

Disclaimer: The contents of this post are provided for generalized informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice you must consult competent legal counsel licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.

[Featured picture is a screen capture of video on this story from ABC News.]

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Comments

legacyrepublican | May 1, 2019 at 9:10 am

Disclaimer: The contents of this post are provided for generalized informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice you must consult competent legal counsel licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.

Whew! Dodged that bullet. I thought for sure this wonderfully well written article was going to self-destruct in 5 seconds after I read the “disclaimer” tag. **chuckle**

Possible, not probable. Predictive, not imminent. Followed by an irrational response. Justice for an innocent’s aborted life.

Clearly IANAL, so I don’t understand this: “a jury convicted Noor of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for that killing.” How can he be convicted of a murder charge and a manslaughter charge for one killing?

    Depends on the exact statutory definition of each crime. So long as neither is a lesser included offense of the other, the jury simply needs to be convinced that the elements of both have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    In terms of sentencing being convicted of both shouldn’t matter, as for sentencing purposes they’ll likely run concurrently.

    (I’ve edited the post to include links to each statute’s full text.)

    –Andrew

    Attorney Andrew F. Branca
    Law of Self Defense LLC

“In September 2018, it was revealed that in 2015 two psychiatrists and other training officers had raised questions about Noor’s fitness for police duty.”
_________________

Which is why the city and PD will likely have to pay millions of dollars to Damond’s family to settle the civil lawsuit they’ve filed.

Noor never should have been made a cop. But the powers-that-be in Minneapolis valued “diversity” above their own citizens’ lives, so they ignored all the evidence of Noor’s unfitness.

    Close The Fed in reply to Observer. | May 1, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Just like the Ft. Hood shooter. He was making comments raising red flags all over the place, but the powers that be IGNORED them, and how many died? I don’t recall the exact number. 17 dead? How many wounded?

    The privilege of being muslim in America. Disgusting and suicidal. WHEN did government become our paid assassin?

      bw222 in reply to Close The Fed. | May 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      Ft. Hood was premeditated murder and should have been classified as a hate crime, but the Army classified it as “workplace violence.”

        Gremlin1974 in reply to bw222. | May 2, 2019 at 2:02 am

        No, Ft. Hood was a terrorist attack by a radicalized islamic and should have been treated as a terrorist attack first.

        Arminius in reply to bw222. | May 2, 2019 at 10:05 pm

        I’m opposed to the whole concept of hate crime. Is there such a thing as a friendly murder? When I was growing up in kali you could (and still can) get killed for wearing a Raider’s jacket or wearing the wrong color sneakers. The gang bangers couldn’t have cared less about your skin color or sexual orientation or whatever if they thought you were representing their gang colors wrong.

        How does it make it worse when somebody kills you for who the murderer thinks you are as opposed to a murderer just casually killing you because they could care less who you are?

    Joe-dallas in reply to Observer. | May 1, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Interesting testimony from his supervisor (or his supervisor’s supervisor) was that Harrity and Noor were both authorized to carry rifles in the car (in the trunk/equivalent of the SUV) because the pair were both judged to be more competent and qualified to carry long arms. Where as only 10-20% of Minneapolis police officers were deemed qualified to carry rifles.

    I think this was an attempt to demonstrate that Noor would not have been the type to lack the mental capicity deal with threats.
    (the supervisor was a prosectution witness, though as I recall, it was a hostile prosecution witness)

    4fun in reply to Observer. | May 1, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    I’m hoping the money going to the lady’s family is large enough that Minnesotans have to have a special tax put on their property to cover it all.
    Nothing else seems to make an impression on those denizens who regularly elect scum like ilhan.

Every fucking liberal involved in getting this wanker in to the police should be lined up and dealt to!

Andrew,

Why wasn’t he charged with 2nd degree murder?

Given the trends in Minneapolis , if the trial had been delayed several years the jury might have come back with justified shooting of a kafir.

Part of this diversity is a soft bigotry that certain minorities just haven’t learned how to be civilized and their actions are permissible because it takes time to adjust…look at congressional anti-Semitism in DC as just a learning problem for freshman Dems.

    bw222 in reply to alaskabob. | May 1, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    30 years ago Minneapolis was a clean, safe city. But then so was Seattle.

      alaskabob in reply to bw222. | May 1, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      I was born in Minneapolis and HHH was mayor just prior. He was a genuine “liberal” before the Progs stole the title to mask their thuggish fascist ways. HHH was pro-2A.

My understanding (not a lawyer) of the law is that acting after the fact as if guilty of a crime (vs. an innocent mistake) can and will be taken as proof of criminal intent.

In other words, covering up what happened can be the worst possible action. If you back up your car over your ex, it’s twice as hard to believe it was an accident if you hide the body or flee the scene instead of reporting it.

This particular diversity hire cop was done no favors by his brothers in blue messing with the investigation as they apparently did. However, did he his own self perform any arguably “cover up” actions? If not, does anyone else smell an appeal?

His actions in the shooting itself give rise to “WTF!?” reactions. But others interfering with the investigation – and not him – should be irrelevant to HIS guilt or innocence. Irrelevant evidence that just makes the defense harder isn’t supposed to be allowed into court, is it?

I definitely smell a civil suite against the PD. A Somalian refugee as a new hire may check off needed diversity boxes for a PD, but PTSD is a very real possibility to be on the lookout for, and it sounds like the PD ignored both the possibility and several warning signs. It’s bad enuf when police suffer from Testosterone Poisoning, as if too often the case. It sounds like this guy reacted logically – if he had still been in a 3rd world hellhole where chaos rules day to day, lawlessness is the norm, and “they” really ARE out to get you. The PD may have done both this hire and the public no favors in ignoring this issue in both hiring and training.

    What you’re referring to is generally called “consciousness of guilt” evidence. Like, “Be sure to drag the body into the house before you call the police.” Classic examples are lying to the police, tampering with evidence or witnesses, fleeing the area for purposes other than safety, nd so forth.

    –Andrew

    Attorney Andrew F. Branca
    Law of Self Defense LLC
    http://lawofselfdefense.com/blog

Noor was an ill-trained recruit with obvious issues regarding lousy temperament and poor judgment, even prior to his murder of Justine Damon’s. Recall how he drew his pistol and pointed at the head of a non-threatening driver, in a traffic stop.

But, of course, in this day and age, the Left’s twin, totalitarian gods of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” must be appeased, no matter how many innocents must be sacrificed. This is especially true where the Left’s newest, most-favored class of alleged and mythologized “victims” are concerned — Muslims. The Minneapolis PD simply had to have its Muslim trophy officer, and, an innocent woman is dead, because of this stupidity.

    bw222 in reply to guyjones. | May 1, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Was Noor ill-trained or incompetent? You can train me to play hockey, but because I don’t have the skills, the best training in the world won’t make me a competent hockey player.

This case caused me to lose ALL respect for the Minneapolis Police Department.

They couldn’t necessarily predict Noor was going to go homicidal.

But once the shooting happened, and even a drunken monkey could see that it was unjustified, they outright refused to cooperate with the prosecutors office, to the point that they had to forcefully subpoena them to testify before the grand jury.

From all accounts the first time somebody mentioned a ‘slap’ on the car, was weeks AFTER the fact.

Noor’s partner’s testimony (Harrity), was a disgrace. He claimed that the alleged slap startled him so much that he pulled out his gun too, and that he feared an ‘ambush’.

They were in a well-lit neighborhood with one of the lowest crime rates in the entire city, she was wearing her freaking pyjamas, and the only other person in sight was a bicyclist trying to get away from them as fast as possible because he was bringing weed to his friend.

The fact that Harrity clearly tried to lie to save him was disgusting.

    jhn1 in reply to Olinser. | May 1, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Better yet, Harrity’s last account described his actions with his gun. He is described by the city as a Community Service Officer, and thus was not allowed to carry a gun.

Justine was on the wrong corner at the crossroads of diversity and inclusion.

And already they’re agitating that Noor was convicted because he is a black immigrant who shot a white woman, not because he was unfit for duty in both training and temperament.

Noor violated virtually every standard for use of deadly force by LE.

First, the unit was responding to a suspicious incident, a woman screaming. The caller speculated that it might be a rape in progress, but had no direct knowledge of that. So, the nature of the call should not have generated enough anxiety to warrant the resulting actions.

Second, Noor failed to identify Damond. And, more importantly, he failed to identify her as a potential threat. All he saw was a figure at the driver’s window, raising a hand.

Based upon the nature of the call and Damond’s actions, there was no reasonable basis for Noor to conclude that Damond was attacking his partner or himself. Therefor, the use of force was not justified. From a LE standpoint, it was not a good shooting.

From a non-LE standpoint it was also deficient, for the same reasons.

What will be of more interest is the pending trial of Ofc. Guyger [Dallas PD] for shooting Botham Jean in his apartment.

Albigensian | May 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm

“Noor never should have been made a cop.” Indeed. Which is why there should be substantial costs to those who hired and retained him.

But there won’t be. There’s likely civil liability, but the cost of that will fall on taxpayers, not on those responsible.

To some degree I feel sympathy for Noor because he was in a job that he wasn’t qualified for. There were plenty of warning flags thrown during the hiring process and training, which the city leaders and police department management ignored in the name of diversity.

healthguyfsu | May 1, 2019 at 3:54 pm

“We are not required to make perfect decisions in self-defense, we’re merely required to make reasonable decisions in self-defense. Reasonable decisions, even if mistaken, are sufficient to justify a use of defensive force, even deadly defensive force (assuming the other required elements of the self-defense claim are also present).”

This is such a legal fine line, especially when you are talking about a matter of moments that are heavily influenced by one’s limbic system and autonomic nervous system.

…but that’s also why he shouldn’t have been a cop.

    Mac45 in reply to healthguyfsu. | May 1, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America constrains the government(s) from infringing upon the right to own and possess or carry a weapon, including firearms. However, the government{s} are empowered to set the legal conditions under which a person may use a weapon.

    People, being generally lazy, decide to own and carry firearms without significant training and no experience in their use in lawful self defense. What then happens is that people use deadly force in self defense against what they “perceive” to be an attack which would legally justify a use of deadly force. Unfortunately, they lack the training to know exactly when they can use such force, how to adequately determine if a legal basis exists to use such force and how to effectively use such force. While training is available which will impart a basic knowledge of these necessary levels of expertise, the opportunity to acquire experience is rare, perhaps fortunately. So, we see people use force unlawfully having to rely upon excuses involving body chemistry and environmental factors.

    I mentioned the Guyger case, in Dallas. If we accept the facts, as reported by Guyger, all of her current problems arise out of mistaken assumptions on her part.

    She assumed that she was entering HER apartment. In fact, it was not. She made the assumption that Jean had entered her apartment forcibly and illegally. It was also possible that he had found the door unlocked or open and walked in to investigate. She assumed that he was attacking her, or that an attack was imminent. If the door was open, and the hallway was lighted, she would have been better off retreating to the hallway, where she could identify Jean. Two assumptions were proven inaccurate. The third, imminent attack, was wholly subjective and is in doubt. This is directly related to a lack of training or insufficient training. She was trained to a higher level than the vast majority of non-LEOs, in this country. If a trained LEO can make these kinds of mistakes, what can we expect from a largely untrained civilian? Everyone should have a basic understanding of when they can use force, and what kind of force they can legally use. This is especially true if a person is going to carry a firearm in public.

healthguyfsu | May 1, 2019 at 10:10 pm

“So, we see people use force unlawfully having to rely upon excuses involving body chemistry and environmental factors.”

If this part was meant to be a retort to my comment about limbic and autonomic influences, then you are off base.

Firstly, these aren’t excuses; this is biological fact.

Secondly, those influences certainly don’t justify homicide, but they are essentially the scientific way of explaining “stupid decisions”. It’s a lot easier to call a decision “stupid” when sitting risk-free in your desk chair absent the stimuli of the situation.

    Mac45 in reply to healthguyfsu. | May 2, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Training overcomes these influences. It has been found to be true from everything from reducing blood pressure to performing effectively in combat.

    And, yes, you were using limbic and autonomic influences as an excuse.

    Training, training, training.

Somalis are an intractable lot!

They do no belong here in America. Period. Full stop.

Conclusion? Affirmative action kills.

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