Noor's attorneys cite training records, psychological test to argue for dismissal of charges

Mohamed Noor enters the Hennepin County Government Center
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor enters the Hennepin County Government Center with his attorneys Peter Wold, left, and Thomas Plunkett, right, in Minneapolis on May 8, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News File

Defense attorneys for former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor are arguing that the prosecution failed to disclose his full work history and training records and that they are relying on "racially questionable" psychological test results to support the charges against him.

Noor, 32, shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk, 40, in the alley behind her home in south Minneapolis after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault on July 15, 2017. He faces third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. He's no longer with the Minneapolis Police Department.

In a memo filed last week, prosecutors pointed to prior acts of recklessness that they say prove Noor's "state of mind" at the time he shot Ruszczyk. But his defense attorneys, Peter Wold and Thomas Plunkett, argue that those examples don't tell the full stories, according to a memo filed in Hennepin County District Court Wednesday.

They include an incident in which Noor pointed his gun at a driver during a May 18, 2017, traffic stop after the driver had traveled two city blocks and made "an exaggerated furtive movement leaning abruptly to his right," the memo said.

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The defense also said the state took snippets from Noor's training records that made him appear to be unfit for duty, when the detailed records show no concerns by his supervisors.

"He was not perfect," the court document quoted a supervisor noting of Noor. "His most frequent criticism was geographic orientation which is very common."

Defense attorneys also point to several instances where Noor's field training officers said he met the standards to start working as a law enforcement officer. They said his training records show that he was eager to learn, enthusiastic, friendly and able to multitask.

"Recruit Noor also had great officer safety when dealing with a sleeping suspect who had a shotgun within arms reach," the court filing said, citing training records, "Recruit Noor assisted officers in securing the shotgun then taking AP (adult person) into custody."

The defense also argues that prosecutors failed to disclose evidence they gathered while looking into the Minneapolis Police Department's psychological evaluation process.

Before he was hired in 2015, Noor took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a standardized psychological test.

Prosecutors have argued that while the psychological test showed no diagnoses of mental illness, Noor "reported disliking people and being around them." It also noted that he is "likely to be asocial and socially introverted." Prosecutors also noted that "the test results indicate a level of disaffiliativeness that may be incompatible with public safety requirements for good interpersonal functioning."

But the defense's court filing said prosecutor Amy Sweasy learned from a psychiatrist who screened candidates that the test wasn't a reliable way of evaluating people of color.

The test had historically shown a bias against minority test takers, according to the court filing.

"The state's claim that the MMPI 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," defense attorneys argued.

Noor, who is Somali-American, is scheduled to appear in court for an omnibus hearing on Sept. 27. He has yet to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.