Justine Ruszczyk's dad slams cop killer's reduced jail sentence

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The father of Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk, who was shot dead by a police officer in the US, has criticised the killer's new jail sentence.

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, 35, on Thursday (local time) drew a reduced sentence of 57 months in prison, the maximum possible for manslaughter, after his murder conviction in the 2017 shooting death of Ms Ruszczyk, also known as Ms Damond, was overturned last month.

The re-sentencing followed a September 15 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling to vacate Noor's third-degree murder conviction and order that he be re-sentenced on a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter.

Justine Ruszczyk, 40, is pictured.
Justine Ruszczyk, 40, was shot dead by a police officer in 2017. Source: Nine News

The victim's father, John Ruszczyk, told Nine News Noor “stole forty years” of his daughter’s life.

“He was ready and willing to pull his gun and kill a civilian,” he told Nine News.

“I think he got away with murder.”

Noor, who was fired after he was charged, has already served more than 29 months. In Minnesota, inmates who behave well typically serve two-thirds of their prison sentences and the remainder on supervised release.

Noor testified at his 2019 trial that he and his partner were driving slowly in an alley when a loud bang on their police car made him fear for their lives. 

He said he saw a woman appear at the partner’s driver’s side window and raise her right arm before he fired a shot from the passenger seat to stop what he thought was a threat.

Former officer Mohamed Noor makes his way to the podium to address Judge Kathryn Quaintance at the Hennepin County Government Center.
Former officer Mohamed Noor will serve 57 months' jail after he shot a woman dead from his police car. Source: AAP

A jury acquitted Noor of second-degree murder but convicted him of third-degree "depraved-mind murder" and second-degree manslaughter, and he was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison.

Lawyers for Noor had sought the minimum 41 months available under sentencing guidelines, saying he had been a "model prisoner."

Had Minnesota accepted the request, Noor, who has already served about two and a half years of his original 12 and a half year sentence, could have been released by early October 2022.

But judge Kathryn Quaintance, who had imposed the original sentence in June 2019, rejected Noor's good-behaviour prison record as grounds for a reduced sentence.

Instead, she noted that Noor fired "across the nose" of his partner in the squad car on a warm summer night when residents of a nearby house were entertaining on their porch. 

John Ruszczyk is pictured.
John Ruszczyk said his daughter's killer got away with murder. Source: Nine News

"These factors of endangering the public make your crime of manslaughter appropriate for high end of the guidelines," the judge told Noor.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Amy Sweasy, meanwhile, asked Ms Quaintance to give Noor the longest possible sentence. She said the case “is worse than typical” because of who Noor is.

"The most serious sentence this court can impose is required,” she said.

'Justine should be alive': Fiancé tells court

The victim’s fiancé, Don Damond, gave his statement via Zoom. He started by praising prosecutors for their “sound application of the law” and criticising the state Supreme Court for its reversal, which he said “does not diminish the truth that was uncovered during the trial.”

“The truth is Justine should be alive. No amount of justification, embellishment, cover-up, dishonesty or politics will ever change that truth,” he said.

But Don Damond also spoke directly to Noor, saying he forgave him and had no doubt Justine also would have forgiven him “for your inability in managing your emotions that night.”

Noor, wearing a suit and tie and donning a face mask, appeared impassive as the victim’s loved ones’ statements were read.

He later addressed the court briefly, saying, “I’m deeply grateful for Mr Damond’s forgiveness. I am deeply sorry for the pain that I’ve caused that family. And I will take his advice and be a unifier. Thank you.”

with Reuters and The Associated Press

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting