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Minneapolis will pay $20 million to family of unarmed woman shot by cop

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2017, file photo, Johanna Morrow plays the didgeridoo during a memorial serv
In this August 2017 photo, Johanna Morrow plays the didgeridoo during a memorial service for Justine Ruszczyk Damond in Minneapolis. The city is paying $20 million to settle a lawsuit over former police officer Mohamed Noor’s fatal shooting of the unarmed Damond.
(Aaron Lavinsky / AP)

The city of Minneapolis will pay $20 million to the family of an unarmed woman fatally shot by a police officer when she approached his squad car after calling 911 to report a possible crime, city leaders announced Friday.

Mayor Jacob Frey and City Council members detailed the settlement just three days after a jury convicted Mohamed Noor of murder and manslaughter in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. The dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia had called 911 to summon officers in the middle of the night to a possible rape in the alley behind her house.

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.

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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.

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

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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.


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