The US police officer charged with the shooting death of Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk Damond looks set to claim self defence and plead not guilty over the killing.
Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor shot dead Ms Damond, who approached his patrol car wearing her pyjamas, in a dark alley behind her home just before midnight on July 25.
A former Sydneysider who moved to Minneapolis, Ms Damond had earlier called 911 after hearing a woman’s screams.
When she approached Noor’s police car in the alley he shot across his partner and out the vehicle’s window, striking Ms Damond in the stomach.
Her death drew international attention, cost police chief Janee Harteau her job and forced major revisions to the department’s policy on body cameras.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday that Noor’s lawyer, Thomas Plunkett, had filed documents in court indicating he intends to use self-defence and reasonable force in the officer’s legal defence.
The document, known as a Rule 9 disclosure, did not elaborate further on details of the proposed defence.
Noor was charged by prosecutors in March with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
He is scheduled to appear in court in Minneapolis on May 8.
Shortly before he was charged, Noor turned himself in to the Hennepin County Jail after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
He is presently free after posting US$500,000 ($660,000) bail.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman outlined the case against Noor when the charges were announced last month.
“We have a second-by-second understanding of what happened,” Mr Freeman said.
“In the short time between when Ms Damond Ruszczyk approached the squad car and the time that officer Noor fired the fatal shot, there is no evidence that officer Noor encountered a threat, appreciated a threat, investigated a threat or confirmed a threat that justified his decision to use deadly force.
“Instead officer Noor intentionally and recklessly fired his handgun from the passenger seat in disregard for human life.”
If convicted of third-degree murder, Mr Noor could face a maximum of 25 years in prison, though the presumptive sentence is 12–and-a-half years.
The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, but the presumptive sentence is four years.
Mr Noor has not spoken publicly about the case and declined to answer questions from investigators.