A former Minneapolis police officer – who had his third-degree murder conviction overturned in court after killing an Australian yoga instructor – may lead to a similar charge against Derek Chauvin getting thrown out.
Disgraced cop Mohamed Noor was found guilty of murder and manslaughter after accidentally shooting Justine Ruszczyk Damond when she called 911 about a sexual assault in her neighborhood in July 2017.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Noor did not intentionally mean to murder Damond in the shooting and the third-degree murder charge was dismissed last Wednesday.
The decision means Noor will serve just four of his original 12-and-a-half-year sentence, which he started in June 2019. The ruling not only shortens Noor’s sentence by eight years, it could lead to the reversal of the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, a legal expert said.
‘Chauvin will likely have his decision reversed because it is legally incompatible to say that someone is guilty of intentionally doing something and at the same time they’re guilty of unintentionally doing something,’ Andrew Wilson, a partner at Wilson Criminal Defense in Minneapolis, told VICE News.
Experts say it may be unlikely for Chauvin’s sentence to be reduced as he was convicted on more serious charges
Derek Chauvin (left) faces a possibility of having his third-degree murder charges reversed after another former Minneapolis cop Mohamed Noor (right) had third-degree murder charges overturned
Chauvin was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter in April.
Noor was convicted of both third-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter when he shot Damond in the abdomen.
She was approaching the squad car Noor was in and he shot the unarmed Damond after being startled by her.
Damond called 911 after she heard screaming from a nearby woman in her neighborhood who she believed to be a victim of sexual assault.
Last week’s Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling is based on if Noor acted with ‘a generalized indifference to human life which cannot exist when the defendant’s conduct is directed with particularity at the person who is killed’ as third-degree murder, or depraved-mind murder, requires for conviction in the state.
The state Court of Appeals ruled that he did earlier this year, but the state Supreme Court disagreed because he only intended to inflict harm toward Damond with his reckless actions, Vice reported.
Noor had his sentence reduced by eight years and may be eligible for early release at the end of this year
Justine Ruszczyk Damond (above) was accidentally shot in the abdomen after she ran to Noor’s squad car when she called about a possible sexual assault happening in her neighborhood
The family of Damond won a $20 million settlement from the city after filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Noor could be eligible for supervised release by the end of 2021 as the state only requires inmates to serve two-thirds of their time beforehand.
Chauvin, however, should not expect a reduction in his sentencing, Wilson said, because he was sentenced based on his other, more serious charges.
‘But I do think it poses real problems for that conviction to stand against him. So on appeal, they might get a reversal of that conviction,’ Wilson said.
Earlier this year, Chauvin’s defense team and Minnesota prosecutors sparred over whether the cop should face a third-degree murder charge after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine-and-a-half minutes.
A court decided in March that the charges should stand against Chauvin – and cited Noor’s case as precedent.
The Minnesota Supreme Court stated that Noor’s actions only affected Damond making it ‘insufficient to sustain his conviction’ in relation to third-degree murder charges.
Due to this ruling, this opened the opportunity for Chauvin to possibly have his third-degree murder charge overturned.
Chauvin and fellow officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao pleaded not guilty to additional charges on Tuesday after they were arraigned for their involvement in Floyd’s death.
The officers faced federal charges in May after they failed to provide Floyd with medical care.
Chauvin was also charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and force by a police officer, while Thao and Kueng were each charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure by failing to intervene to stop Chauvin using unreasonable force.
If convicted, all four officers could face the federal death penalty or life in prison.
The federal charges are separate from the state charges against the four cops who were all fired from Minneapolis Police Department the day after Floyd’s murder.