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Prosecutors: In Ruszczyk shooting, murder and manslaughter charges fit

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Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor leaves.
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor leaves the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis with his attorneys April 30. Noor was found guilty last month of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Prosecutors in the case of former police officer Mohamed Noor argued in a court filing Thursday that the jury properly convicted Noor of murder and manslaughter last month. The filing is a response to a request from Noor's defense team earlier this week to overturn those convictions.

Noor was found guilty last month of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Justine Ruszczyk in July 2017. Ruszczyk had called 911 to report what she thought was an assault in the alley behind her home. She was shot and killed by Noor after she approached the squad he was a passenger in.

Noor's attorneys had argued that the third-degree murder charge, which the law describes as exhibiting a depraved mind, was not appropriate for the circumstances.

But prosecutors counter that instructions to the jury explicitly stated that prosecutors didn't need to prove that Noor acted with a "depraved mind. The court instead told jurors that they must find whether "the defendant's intentional act ... was eminently dangerous to human beings and was performed without regard to human life."

Prosecutors also rejected defense attorneys' argument that Noor's actions were an attempt to minimize danger and therefore didn't fit the charge of second-degree manslaughter.

"The jury rejected the defendant's argument that he acted safely and without putting others in danger," according to the prosecution's filing. "The jury rejected the defendant's assertion that "the only reasonable interpretation of the events is that [the defendant] perceived a need to defend himself and Officer Harrity."

Judge Kathryn Quaintance rejected a request by Noor's defense team before the trial to dismiss charges against him for lack of probable cause.

Noor is scheduled to be sentenced on June 7. A motion to acquit is often filed in criminal cases. Noor could appeal his conviction.