NA­TION Killer cop ‘ made a sin­cere mis­take’

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION -

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.

HEART­BREAK: Ja­son Ruszczyk and part­ner Kata­rina led the pro­ces­sion to the edge of the water at the sun­rise vigil on Fresh­wa­ter beach in Syd­ney and ( in­set) Jus­tine Da­mond’s fa­ther John Ruszczyk ( cen­tre) joins fam­ily and friends at the ser­vice. Pic­ture: J

Po­lice of­fi­cer Mo­hamed Noor. Jus­tine Da­mond. Mayor Betsy Hodges.

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