Attorneys for a former policeman accused of murdering an Australian in the US city of Minneapolis last year were granted permission by a judge to borrow a squad car to test conditions surrounding the shooting.

Mohamed Noor fatally shot Justine Damond in 2017 as she approached his police car, having alerted authorities to what sounded like a rape taking place in a dark alley behind her home.

Noor was fired from the police department and charged with second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter.

The former officer’s attorneys on Thursday asked the presiding judge in the case to grant them access to a police car “to independently gather information, make measurements and allow testing and analysis.”

City attorneys on Friday objected to much of the defense’s request, saying authorities would allow access to a police car, but were concerned that “the specific nature of the proposed ‘testing and analysis’ is not identified.”

Judge Kathryn L Quaintance later ruled in favor of allowing the test but said it must occur “at or near” a police station in the city rather than the requested location of near the scene of the shooting.

Media reports said the defense was looking to recreate and measure lighting conditions when the moon would have been at the same phase as during the fatal shooting nearly two years ago.

But the night sky was overcast in Minneapolis on Friday and the moon was not visible.

Noor shot Damond once from the passenger seat of his police cruiser in July 2017. His partner told investigators they had been startled by a loud sound moments before they saw a figure approach them.

The shooting provoked outrage in the United States and in Damond’s native Australia.

The 40-year-old had moved to the US to marry her American fiance, Don Damond, whose name she had already legally adopted.

Her relatives and the Australian government demanded an explanation, while protests in Minneapolis led to the resignation of the city’s police chief.

Noor’s jury trial is scheduled to begin April 1.