The racial aspect of this case speaks volumes about criminal justice and criminal injustice in America today. Noor, who is Black, Muslim, and a Somali immigrant, is believed to be the only police officer in Minnesota ever to have been convicted for killing someone while on duty.
At a crucial moment in the trial, Noor testified that he reacted to Damond as “the threat.” Prosecutors responded by asking him, “The whole blonde hair, pink t-shirt is a threat to you?” This line of questioning was in part about the legal standard required to convict. Under Graham v. Connor, a police officer can use force – including lethal force — if a reasonable officer on the scene would consider the level of force to be “objectively reasonable,” not whether the use of force was actually necessary in light of the various tactics and alternatives available to the officer at the time. Because this standard is so elastic, it is often very difficult to show that an officer violated it.