Ex-U.S. police officer pleads not guilty in Australian woman's death

A former Minnesota police officer pleaded not guilty Friday to three charges stemming from the 2017 fatal shooting of an unarmed Australian woman that provoked outrage in the United States and in the victim's homeland.
Police say Mohamed Noor shot Justine Damond in Minneapolis in July 2017 while seated in the passenger seat of his police car, as she approached the vehicle. His partner was at the wheel.
Damond had called police to report a possible rape taking place in the dark alley behind her home.
Noor has been charged with second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The trial is scheduled to start April 1.
He was fired after being charged.
The shooting happened moments after Noor and his partner were startled by a loud noise in the alley as their police cruiser slowed to a stop.
The 40-year-old Damond had moved to the U.S. to marry her American fiance, Don Damond, whose name she had already legally adopted, changing from her maiden name Ruszczyk.
Her relatives and the Australian government demanded an explanation, while protests in Minneapolis led to the resignation of the city's police chief.
At Friday's hearing, beyond Noor's plea, Judge Kathryn Quaintance also ruled on the permissibility of various evidence.
Among the evidence she deemed inadmissible was information about Noor's prior work performance, past psychological exam results and his decision not to speak with investigators, according to local media reports.
In the past, Noor allegedly pointed a gun at a motorist during a traffic stop and occasionally refused to respond to police calls, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.
Minnesota Public Radio reported that Noor was deemed "asocial and socially introverted" in his pre-employment psychological test, but that there were no signs of disqualifying mental illness.

© 2019 AFP
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