World

Minneapolis to pay $20M to family of police shooting victim

The city of Minneapolis is paying $20 million US to settle a lawsuit over a police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed Australian woman who approached his squad car after calling 911 to report a possible crime.

Ex-officer Mohamed Noor was convicted earlier this week in death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond

Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, is seen in a photo taken in 2015. She was shot to death in 2017. On Tuesday, a jury convicted a former police officer of third-degree murder for the shooting. (Stephen Govel Photography/Reuters)

The City of Minneapolis is paying $20 million US to settle a lawsuit over a police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who approached his squad car after calling 911 to report a possible crime.

Mayor Jacob Frey announced the settlement Friday, three days after a jury convicted Mohamed Noor of murder and manslaughter in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Damond, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, had called 911 to summon officers to a possible rape in the alley behind her house.

The settlement appears to be among the largest ever for an officer-involved shooting fatality. In 1999, Chicago paid $18 million to the family of a victim.

Noor and his partner were rolling down the alley in a police SUV when they say they were startled by a loud bang on the vehicle. Noor testified that he fired to protect them from a perceived threat. Jurors took about 11½ hours to reach a verdict after hearing three weeks of testimony.

Damond's family had filed a lawsuit seeking more than $50 million, alleging that her civil rights were violated.

Frey said the city moved quickly to settle in part due to Noor's conviction for third-degree murder, as well as the officer's failure to identify a threat before he used force.

"This is not a victory for anyone, but rather a way for our city to move forward," he said.

$2M set aside for gun control cause

The settlement calls for Damond's family to donate $2 million to a local foundation's fund aimed at addressing gun violence.

The death of Damond, 40, came a month before she was due to marry.

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, seen in a file photo, is scheduled to be sentenced in June after being convicted earlier this week. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Noor, 33, who had trained to become a police officer in a mid-career switch, was fired after he was charged.

He is in custody awaiting sentencing in June. Sentencing guidelines call for as many as 15 years in prison on the murder charge, though judges can depart from the guidelines.

Prosecutors criticized Noor for shooting without seeing a weapon or Damond's hands. They also questioned whether the loud bang was real. Neither Noor nor his partner, Matthew Harrity, mentioned it to investigators at the scene, with Harrity first mentioning it three days later in an interview with state investigators. Noor refused to talk to investigators.

With files from CBC News

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