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The former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot unarmed Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk is scheduled to be released from prison next week, months after his murder conviction was overturned and he was resentenced on a lesser charge.

Mohamed Noor, 36, is scheduled to be released from custody on Monday, according to online Department of Corrections records.

Noor was initially convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter in the 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, a 40-year-old dual US-Australian citizen and yoga teacher who was engaged to be married. But last year, the Minnesota Supreme Court tossed out his murder conviction and 12 1/2-year sentence, saying the murder charge didn’t apply to the circumstances of this case.

Justine Ruszczyk was shot dead by a US police officer in 2017. (Supplied)

He was resentenced to four years and nine months on the manslaughter charge.

In Minnesota, it’s presumed that a defendant with good behaviour will serve two-thirds of a sentence in prison and the rest on parole. The DOC’s website says Noor will be on supervised release until January 24, 2024.

Justine’s father, John Ruszczyk, said the family was disappointed that Noor’s third-degree murder conviction was overturned.

“His release after a trivial sentence shows great disrespect to the wishes of the jury who represented the communities of Minneapolis and their wish to make a statement about the communities’ expectations of police behaviour and actions,” Ruszczyk wrote in response to emailed questions from The Associated Press.

Mohamed Noor
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor is being released from prison on Monday. (AP)

After his conviction, Noor began serving his time at Minnesota’s maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights, but the Star Tribune reported he was transferred to a facility in North Dakota in July 2019 for his own safety. Department of Corrections spokesman Nicholas Kimball said Noor is still out of state, but did not specify where.

“For safety reasons, we aren’t able to provide more detail than what is available on the public website, which is the scheduled date of release,” Kimball said.

It wasn’t clear whether Noor would return to Minnesota. His attorney, Tom Plunkett, declined to comment, saying, “at this point I just want to respect Mr Noor’s privacy.”

Ruszczyk’s killing angered citizens in the US and Australia, and led to the resignation of Minneapolis’ police chief. It also led the department to change its policy on body cameras; Noor and his partner didn’t have theirs activated when they were investigating Ruszczyk’s 911 call.

Justine Ruszczyk with her fiance Don Damond. (A Current Affair)

Noor testified at his 2019 trial that he and his partner were driving slowly in an alley when a loud bang on their police SUV 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.

Ruszczyk had called police to report a suspected sexual assault in the alley behind her home.

Ruszczyk was a meditation teacher and life coach who was killed about a month before her wedding.

Her fiance, Don Damond, declined to comment on Noor’s pending release, but said during Noor’s resentencing that he had forgiven the former officer, and that he had no doubt Justine also would have forgiven him “for your inability in managing your emotions that night.”

John Ruszczyk said in his email to the AP that his family believes state investigators and the Minneapolis Police Department did not fully cooperate with the investigation into his daughter’s killing and he was disturbed by the agency’s culture.

He said he believes the department accepts using violence as a way to control challenging situations, which he said contributed to her death. He cited a recent report from the state Department of Human Rights which found that the agency has engaged in a pattern of race discrimination for at least a decade, including using force more often on people of colour.

Days after Noor’s conviction, Minneapolis agreed to pay US$20 million ($28.8 million) to Ruszczyk’s family, believed at the time to be the largest settlement stemming from police violence in Minnesota. It was surpassed last year when Minneapolis agreed to a US$27 million ($38.88 million) settlement in Floyd’s death just as Chauvin was going on trial.

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