Juror: Justine’s killer ‘was a good guy’
One of the jurors who helped convict an American police officer over the shooting death of Australian woman Justine Damond has revealed why the jury reached two guilty verdicts at Mohamed Noor's trial.
The juror, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to local Minneapolis radio station KARE 11, told host Lou Raguse that Noor "seemed very genuine".
"I don't think he was a bad guy," the juror said.
"I think he was a good guy. By all accounts during the trial, it seemed like he had good training, was a good cop. And unfortunately, he just made the worst mistake he could in about two or three seconds time."
Noor, 33, shot and killed Ms Damond, 40, when she approached his police vehicle in an alley behind her south Minneapolis home on July 15, 2017.
Ms Damond, formerly of Sydney, had called police to report a possible sexual assault after hearing a woman scream behind her house.
But when an unarmed Ms Damond - dressed in a pink T-shirt with koalas on it, pyjama pants and carrying a glittery gold iPhone - walked barefoot towards the patrol car to meet police, Noor shot her in the abdomen at point blank range.
The court previously heard that within one minute and 19 seconds of making the emergency call, Ms Damond was cradling a gunshot wound to her abdomen and saying, "I'm dying".
On Tuesday, Noor was found guilty of third degree murder (intentionally causing bodily harm but not necessarily death) and second degree manslaughter in relation to Ms Damond's death.
He was acquitted of the more serious charge of second degree murder (intentionally killing another person).
The jury of 10 men and two women took less than one day to reach their decision. He is facing up to 25 years in prison and will be sentenced next month.
"I feel bad for the guy," one of the jurors told the radio station following the verdict.
"I feel bad for his family. But we determined he committed a crime.
"And in the end, no one is above the law."
Noor testified he fired his weapon after he heard a bang on his squad car, saw his partner was scared, then saw Ms Damond at his partner's window, raising her arm.
Noor said his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, shouted "Oh Jesus!" and fumbled with his gun in its holster before "he turned to me with fear in his eyes". Noor told the court he feared the pair was being targeted in an ambush and "had to make a split-second decision".
The juror who spoke on local radio said he believed Ms Damond "did make contact with the car".
"But we didn't really feel that was super-relevant," he said.
"Yeah, officers get startled all the time, and she poses no threat.
"It was two seconds-time, he made a bad mistake, and even if you have a split-second decision, you're still responsible for the decisions you make.
"Police officers have to adhere to their training. Part of that is following the mental checklist of, 'is this person a threat?' And clearly that wasn't followed here."
According to the juror, Noor's testimony was largely taken "with a heavy grain of salt because of discrepancies" with his partner's evidence, the latter of which was supported by forensic evidence.
"He felt genuine when he was talking about his past and upbringing, but something just felt off when he started talking about the events of that night," the juror said of Noor.
"Being able to talk about calls and events earlier that night in specific detail but have no recollection of important events afterwards. We didn't take a lot stock in his testimony because the forensic evidence supported Harrity's testimony...everything just felt off."
The juror said Noor never realy adequately answered why he had shot Ms Damond other than to say he was "protecting" himself. But the jury wasn't left with any lingering questions, he said.
"I think throughout the trial we kind of had the feeling there was something we weren't being told," the juror continued.
"I don't think there was a grand conspiracy or anything, but we sensed a pretty big rift between Minneapolis Police Department and the prosecution. And I think we guessed that there was something going on there. But I don't think in terms of facts of the case, I don't think we were not told anything specific that we needed to know."
The juror said one particular part of the case would live with him forever.
"During the early portions when we were watching body camera footage of Justine dying, it was highly emotional," he said.
"I'm not really a super emotional guy, but you know, you do get a lump in your throat.
"The noise - I will never forget that as long as I live.
"We didn't really hear that part until Harrity's body cam footage.
"That is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life."
Ms Damond was living in the US with her American fiance Don Damond, who she was planning to marry just weeks later when she died.