MINNEAPOLIS – Defense attorneys for a former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman last year argue that prosecutors have misled the court about Mohamed Noor's past behavior in an attempt to portray him as unfit for duty, according to a court document filed Wednesday.
The document was filed in response to prosecutors' argument that there is enough probable cause for the case against Noor to proceed. Noor is charged with murder and manslaughter in the July 15, 2017, fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who was killed after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home.
Prosecutors said last week that officers who were training Noor reported instances in which he had problems handling the stress of the job. They also said that he took a psychological test in 2015 that showed he disliked being around people and was more likely than other officer candidates to become impatient. Prosecutors also wrote that just two months before the shooting, Noor was involved in a traffic stop in which he pointed a gun at a motorist's head.
Defense attorneys said prosecutors left out key information.
"These lies by omission and clear misstatements of fact actively mislead the reader and obscure the truth," defense attorneys Thomas Plunkett and Peter Wold wrote.
They said that training officers never found Noor to be "unacceptable" at a task, and the psychological test he took in 2015 is racially biased. Noor is Somali-American.
"The State's claim that the ... test illustrates his indifference for human life which led to his action on July 15, 2017 is asking to have Officer Noor convicted because of his race," the defense wrote.
The attorneys also said that the psychologist who administered the test and the psychiatrist who cleared Noor for duty told prosecutor Amy Sweasy that Noor's results were likely a result of his race and culture, not a personality disorder.
"The State, knowing that this would be widely covered by media all over the world, failed to inform the Court of crucial information," the defense wrote.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office had no comment on the defense filing Wednesday.
The defense also took issue with the state's claim that Noor pointed a gun at a motorist's head two months before he shot Damond. The defense said prosecutors didn't explain that the driver went two blocks without stopping and made movements inside the car as if he was hiding contraband.
Defense attorneys are asking that the charges against Noor be dismissed. A hearing on the motions is set for Sept. 27.
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