Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot dead in 2017 after she called police to report what she thought was a rape going on behind her home. Photo courtesy Justine Damond/Facebook
Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A former Minneapolis police officer who accidentally shot and killed a woman who'd called 911 to report a rape saw his prison sentence dramatically cut on Thursday.
Former officer Mohamed Noor killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017 as he was responding to her emergency call, in which she said she'd witnessed the sexual assault behind her home.
As he and his partner were driving near Damond's home, Noor testified at trial that he heard a loud bang and then saw Damond abruptly appear at the vehicle's window. When she began to raise her arm, he said he feared that she was a threat -- and he shot her through the passenger side window.
Noor, 36, was originally convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison.
The Minnesota Supreme Court, however, threw out his murder conviction on appeal last month due to insufficient evidence, which required that Noor be resentenced on the manslaughter conviction.
Thursday, a judge sentenced him to 57 months, including time already served. He began serving his term in 2019.
Noor has already served nearly 30 months in prison, and will be eligible for release after he fulfills two-thirds of his sentence. That means he only needs to serve another 8 and a half months before he could be freed.
Defense attorneys requested a sentence at the low-end of guidelines, but the judge said Noor had fired his gun across the nose of his partner and endangered a bicyclist and others in the neighborhood.
"These factors of endangering the public make your crime of manslaughter appropriate for a high end sentence," she said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The woman's fiance, Don Damond, appeared in court and said the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision to overturn part of the conviction "does not diminish the truth that was uncovered during the trial."
"The truth is Justine should be alive," he said. "No amount of justification, embellishment, cover-up, dishonesty or politics will ever change that truth."
Damond also said that he's forgiven Noor.
"Justine was and is still my greatest teacher...given her example I want you to know that I forgive you," Damond said, according to KARE-TV. "All I ask is that you use this experience to do good for other people. Be an example of how to transform beyond adversity. Be an example of honesty and contrition."
Noor told the court that he was "deeply grateful" for Damond's forgiveness and "deeply sorry" for shooting Justine.
"I will take his advice and be a unifier," he added.