A former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman who had called 911 said Friday he "knew in an instant I was wrong" and apologized to her family, moments before a judge brushed off a defense request for leniency and ordered him to prison for 12½ years. Mohamed Noor was convicted in April of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the US and Australia. Noor shot Damond when she approached his squad car in the alley behind her home. Noor's lawyers had argued for a light sentence, the AP reports, saying a prison term would only compound the tragedy and keep him from doing service. But Judge Kathryn Quaintance followed the recommendation under state guidelines. "The act may have been based on a miscalculation, but it was an intentional act," Quaintance said.
The case, which sparked outrage in the US and Australia, has been fraught by race from the start. Noor is Somali American, and Damond was white; some in the community argued the case was treated differently from police shootings in which the victims were black and the officers were white. One activist at the courthouse Friday carried a sign that had the words "Black, Muslim, Immigrant and Guilty" with boxes checked next to each word. Another read, "NOOR: Victim of Identity Politics." Noor, 33, his voice breaking, apologized repeatedly to Damond and her family for "taking the life of a perfect person," saying: "I caused this tragedy and it is my burden. I wish, though, that I could relieve that burden others feel." John Ruszczyk, in a statement read in court, asked for the maximum sentence and called his daughter's killing "an obscene act by an agent of the state."
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