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Somali Community Grapples With Noor Charges In Damond Case

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The murder charges filed earlier this week against Officer Mohamed Noor in the Justine Damond killing were widely praised by Damond's friends and family.

But those same charges are being condemned by some member of Minnesota's Somali community.

Noor posted bail Wednesday night and was mobbed by cameras as he left the Hennepin County Jail with his attorney. Noor was charged with 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter for shooting and killing Justine Damond. She was shot after calling 911 to report what she thought was a sexual assault in the alley behind her south Minneapolis home.

The Somali-American Police Officers Association calls the charges "baseless and politically motivated, if not racially motivated as well."

Outside a hearing for Mohamed Noor Wednesday, supporters expressed their anger.

"He just did what he was trained to do, and we don't think he was treated fairly," Kiman Ugas said.

After the Somali-American Police Officers association criticized the charges, comments supporting their position quickly filled their Facebook feed. Longtime community Activist Omar Jamal says he believes the charges are racially motivated.

"I don't think if the victim had been black and the cop would have been white things would have been the same," he said.

Jamal says many are angered that after the charges were filed, Noor was fired.

"Why did the Minneapolis Police Department fire him? Why was he fired right after the day he was charged? Isn't he presumed innocent until proven guilty?" he said.

Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is more tempered.

"Every single police officer has to be held accountable for their actions, regardless of their race or religion, regardless of who they are,  they are not above the law. Mr. Noor is not above the law," he said.

And many we spoke with say the charges against Noor are especially painful for an immigrant community that saw Noor as a symbol of having made it in their new homeland.

"This case has been the center of the Somali immigrant community," Jamal said. "Everybody was watching, looking at what's going to happen. This was the only case Somalis were really, really interested in."

A representative of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office referred us to Freeman's comments earlier in the week in which Freeman said: "Clearly, Officer Noor violated the rules and deserves to be charged."

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