Former Minneapolis police officer faces murder trial for shooting Australian woman

FILE PHOTO: Supporter of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor speaks to media in Minneapolis

FILE PHOTO: A supporter of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor speaks to the media outside the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility as Noor made his first court appearance after being charged in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Miller/File Photo


(Reuters) - The criminal trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering an Australian national who reported a suspected sexual assault near her home was due to open with jury selection on Monday.

Mohamed Noor, 33, is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Justine Damond in July 2017 when she approached his patrol car after calling the 911 emergency line to report a possible crime.

The shooting came amid a wave of controversial shootings of unarmed Americans by U.S. police and was denounced as "inexplicable" by Australia's then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The case led Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau to resign.

Noor has pleaded not guilty.

After Noor was arrested last year, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the officer had "recklessly" fired his handgun out the window of the patrol car.

Damond's family filed a civil lawsuit against the city and several police officers last month seeking $50 million in damages, accusing Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity of conspiring to conceal the facts around the shooting and failing to record the incident on their body cameras.

The penalty for third-degree murder is up to 25 years in prison and second-degree manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 10 years.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)

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