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Police officer who shot woman could face 2nd degree murder charge

The shooting death of a woman in Minnesota allegedly at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has prompted prosecutors to amend their original charges against the accused shooter. The male police officer had been previously charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but a motion filed by prosecutors requested an upgrade of charges to second-degree murder based on the probability that he intended to kill her when he discharged his weapon.

The woman's death occurred on July 15, 2017 when she summoned police to her neighborhood with a 911 call. She suspected that a sexual assault was happening in the alley by her house. When two officers arrived in a police SUV, she approached the open driver's side window of the vehicle. The police officer sitting in the passenger seat, shot across his partner's body and struck the woman in the torso with a 9-millimeter bullet. She died on the scene. The officer driving the vehicle told investigators that the noise of the gun surprised him.

An attorney representing the accused shooter acknowledged in a statement that the woman's death was a tragedy but insisted that the police officer fired his weapon in accordance with his training. The statement added that no criminal charges should have been filed against the officer.

A person accused of violent crimes, like homicide or attempted homicide, might want legal support when dealing with the criminal justice system. An attorney may opt to challenge attempts by prosecutors to inflate charges. Depending on the situation, an attorney might form a defense strategy based on questioning weak evidence or identifying information that supports an alibi. These services could protect the person's rights and potentially limit penalties.

Source: NBC News, "New murder charge sought in Minneapolis officer's killing of Justine Damond", Phil Helsel, Nov. 30, 2018

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