Partner of ex-Minneapolis cop on trial in shooting says he did not assess situation properly

Minneapolis officer Matthew Harrity testified that he wasn't clear on whether or not there was danger just before his partner Mohamed Noor opened fire, killing an unarmed woman

Mohamed Noor
The partner of a Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a possible crime testified Thursday that he feared a possible ambush before the woman was shot. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

The former partner of a Black ex-officer for the Minneapolis Police Department testified that he feared for his life in July 2017 when a silhouette appeared outside of their cruiser door, the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting.

The ex-officer, Mohamed Noor, 33, is on trial in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

READ MORE: Prosecutors accuse Minneapolis police supervisor of missteps in Noor trial

The former partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, responded to questions from the prosecution as to whether he could make out the features of the silhouette or whether the person was armed when the incident took place on July 15, 2017, the newspaper reported.

“I didn’t analyze the threat fully yet,” Harrity testified.

“So the use of deadly force at that point would be premature?” Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Amy Sweasy asked.

“Yes, with what I had,” Harrity answered.

The officer’s testimony supported the version of events presented by the defense indicating that a loud sound startled both officers and led them to believe they were being ambushed, the Star Tribune reported.

READ MORE: Police union claims black officer who killed white woman is being treated more harshly by prosecutor

Harrity told defense attorney Peter Wold that he perceived the incident as a life-or-death situation.

“You thought your life was on the line at the moment, sir?” Wold asked in court.

Harrity responded yes.

“If that figure had a gun and had time to fire it, you wouldn’t have had time to, would you sir?” Wold asked Harrity.

“No, I don’t believe so,” Harrity said.

Wold asked whether Noor was trying to save Harrity and whether, in looking at Harrity, he would have seen “a very scared partner.”

“I would believe so, yeah,” Harrity said.

Harrity testified that he and Noor were responding to a 9-1-1 call from Damond about a potential sexual assault behind her home, the Star Tribune reported. Harrity, driving, stopped at the entrance to the alley behind the residence. That is when he saw a silhouette to his left, according to the news organization.

READ MORE: Minneapolis cop charged with murder after shooting woman who reported a sexual assault

Harrity said he heard a thump on the squad car, heard a pop and saw a flash, and feared an ambush. He testified that he believed he saw Noor holding a firearm.

Damond, who was unarmed, was shot in the lower left abdomen and died from her wound. Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The third-degree murder charge includes a 25-year sentence maximum with 12 years minimum, and the second-degree manslaughter charge carries a 10-year maximum in prison with 4 years minimum.