NATION Killer cop ‘ made a sincere mistake’
THE family of Justine Damond’s killer declared his innocence yesterday, saying Mohamed Noor had mistakenly shot her dead.
“We feel so bad about this, we are traumatised ourselves. It’s so unfortunate,” a family member said.
“If you wait for the investigation you’ll know it was an honest and sincere event that transpired. Until then we can’t really say anything.”
The declaration came as a preliminary investigation by Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension revealed Noor and his fellow officer had been startled by a loud noise in the seconds before she approached their car and was shot.
Officer Matthew Harrity, 26, who was driving the Minneapolis police car responding to Ms Damond’s 911 call for help late on Saturday night, described the last moments of Ms Damond’s life to investigators.
He said the loud noise – which was possibly fireworks, according to police radio – came just as Ms Damond walked to the squad car he was driving, around the corner from her home.
The former Sydney woman, who was to be married to her US fiance within weeks, had called police to report what she thought was a sexual assault happening behind their house in southern Minneapolis.
Officer Noor, 31, immedi- THE family of sl slaini AustralianA l woman Justine Damond, who was shot dead by police in the US, broke down in tears at an early morning vigil yesterday on Sydney’s northern beaches.
A crowd of about 200, including distraught father John Ruszczyk, brother Jason and sister- in- law Katarina, stood in silence as the sun rose over Freshwater Beach headland.
Candles arranged in the shape of a heart sat in the middle of the group, many of whom brought blankets and yoga mats to the beach.
A friend of the spiritual healer, Matt Omo, played a gong and a didgeridoo for the ceremony, which mourners were asked to arrive at and leave in silence.
Ms Damond’s brother Jason Ruszczyk and Katarina led a procession to the edge of the water, where they threw flowers of Ms Damond’s favourite colour, pink, into the ocean. Her brother broke into tears as he left his tribute. Shortly before the vigil, M Ms Damond’s family re released a brief statement. “W We are here to come to together as a community ar around our beautiful Ju Justine, to honour her life, sh share our love and mourn he her death,” it read. ately fired through the door of the car, and killed Ms Damond, 40, with a single gunshot to the abdomen.
Harrity was reportedly stunned when his partner opened fire. Noor has so far refused to be formally interviewed, and under federal law, he cannot be compelled to speak to investigators.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges last night called on Noor to explain himself.
“We don’t yet have all the answers,” she said.
“It’s frustrating to have some of the picture but not all of it.
“We cannot compel Officer Noor to make a statement – I wish we could.”
The killing of Ms Damond has shattered her community and electrified the midwestern city of Minneapolis, which has suffered through two other recent high profile police shootings.
Most perplexing for many has been the fact the meditation teacher, who is being remembered for her love of animals and generous spirit, was struck down as she called for help.