The city of Minneapolis agreed on Friday to pay the family of Justine Ruszczyk a settlement of $20 million. Ruszczyk was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer after she called 911 to report a disturbance in an alley not far from her home.
The settlement is one of the largest ever in a shooting incident involving an officer and was announced three days after the conviction on murder charges for officer Mohamed Noor. Noor is a black, Somali-American who is also Muslim. With the conviction, Noor became the first officer in Minnesota to be found guilty of murder for a shooting that took place while on duty.
Ruszczyk was shot when she approached a police cruiser where Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, were seated. The forty-year-old yoga instructor called the police moments before her own shooting to report she heard a woman being attacked in the alley.
Defense attorneys say the shot by Noor was in defense of his partner. He testified to hearing a thumping sound and then seeing a figure next to the driver side of the vehicle where Garrity was seated.
Noor faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison but is expected to receive a sentence significantly less than the maximum.
Mayor Jacob Frey addressed the media and said there are no winners in the situation involving Officer Noor and Justine Ruszczyk. The mayor also said the settlement represents an effort on the part of the city to provide closure to the family of the victim and move on from the matter.
A lawyer for the Ruszczyk family, Robert Bennett, says the settlement will send a distinct message to the Minnesota Police Department.
Experts on the matter felt the settlement was necessary to avoid the case being heard by a jury who could possibly award the victim’s family much more.
Advocates for social justice see the issue in a slightly different light. The advocates have already been vocal regarding the racial dynamics of the case and say the large settlement offered to the Ruszczyk family is another sign of the great disparity that exists between black and white victims of violence at the hands of police officers.
An expert with an opposing view says the large settlement and attention given to the Noor case is a result of the significance Americans have placed on addressing police shootings.