A Hennepin County judge on Friday ruled that prosecutors can amend the complaint against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017, to include a second-degree murder charge.
In an order filed Friday, Judge Kathryn Quaintance approved the state’s request seeking an upgraded count after prosecutors argued last week that evidence shows Noor “intended to kill Ms. Ruszczyk when he aimed and fired at her,” thus justifying a second-degree murder charge.
The defense did not respond to the motion to amend the complaint, court records show.
Noor, who was fired in March, hasn’t entered a plea on previously leveled charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, but his attorneys have indicated that he will plead not guilty by reason of self-defense. He remains free on bail.
An appeal of his firing is on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case.
Prosecutors based their argument for the upgraded charge, in part, on the fact that Noor shot at Ruszczyk from close range and with “tragic accuracy,” firing the fatal bullet past his partner, Matthew Harrity, and “through the narrow space of the open driver’s window,” according to the filing.
“As a trained officer, the defendant was fully aware that such a shot would kill Ms. Ruszczyk, a result he clearly intended,” said the filing, lodged last Thursday in Hennepin County District Court.
A message left for Noor’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, wasn’t immediately returned Friday. Noor is the first police officer statewide in recent memory to be charged with murder for an on-duty killing. A trial date has been set for April 1, 2019.
The shooting occurred on July 15, 2017, shortly after Damond called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her southwest Minneapolis home. Prosecutors say she was shot as she approached the police SUV’s driver-side window, with Noor firing past his partner, who was behind the wheel.
Staff writer Libor Jany contributed to this report.