Noor signals he'll plead not guilty in Ruszczyk killing

Former Mpls. police officer Mohamed Noor
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor leaves the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility with his attorney, Thomas Plunkett, left, after posting bail Wednesday night, March 21, 2018, in Minneapolis.
Jeff Wheeler | Star Tribune via AP

Updated: 3:55 p.m. | Posted: 1:43 p.m.

Attorneys for former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor filed a court document Wednesday saying that the officer intends to plead not guilty on charges filed against him in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk last July.

Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last month in the killing of Ruszczyk, known professionally as Justine Damond. She'd called 911 to report what she thought was an assault in the alley behind her home in Minneapolis on July 15. Prosecutors say Noor fatally shot Ruszczyk through the open driver's side window after she approached the squad car from behind.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said when he announced charges that there was "no evidence that Officer Noor encountered a threat, appreciated a threat, investigated a threat or confirmed a threat that justified his decision to use deadly force."

The document filed Wednesday is called a rule nine disclosure. It states that Noor intends to rely on defenses at trial that include arguing that he's not guilty, that it was self-defense and that it was a reasonable use of force. St. Paul attorney Melvin Welch, who is not involved in the case, said the filings are standard practice in criminal cases like this.

"The writing was in the tea leaves that self-defense was going to be asserted here," Welch said. "This is merely formalizing what everyone expected."

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has reported that neither officer turned their body cameras on in time to capture the shooting. The squad cameras were also not activated.

Minneapolis police announced shortly after the charges that Noor was no longer with the department. He is currently free on bail.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office reported that Ruszczyk died after a single gunshot wound to her abdomen. Ruszczyk was a yoga and meditation teacher in Minneapolis. Her friends remembered her at a memorial in August as a spiritual, loving person who cared deeply for animals.

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