NA­TION Killer cop ‘ fast tracked’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SARAH BLAKE

THE cop who shot dead Aussie life coach Jus­tine Da­mond was fast- tracked into the force un­der a con­tro­ver­sial scheme to meet a short­age of po­lice in Min­neapo­lis.

Mo­hamed Noor, who mis­tak­enly killed Ms Da­mond on July 15 af­ter she called 911 to help a woman she be­lieved was be­ing at­tacked be­hind her home, stud­ied for just eight months be­fore he started field train­ing.

While other po­lice study a two- year de­gree in crim­i­nal jus­tice be­fore com­menc­ing field train­ing, Mr Noor, 31, was placed in an ac­cel­er­ated pro­gram be­cause he al­ready had a busi­ness de­gree.

Mr Noor’s killing of Ms Da­mond, 40, from Manly, has cast an in­ter­na­tional spot­light on the Mid­west city, which has been rocked by three con­tro­ver­sial cop killings in less than two years.

Po­lice chief Ja­nee Harteau was ousted last week af­ter the city “lost faith” in her lead­er­ship, and author­i­ties have been dogged by ques­tions about the qualifications and pre­pared­ness of Mr Noor, an of­fi­cer for two years, and Of­fi­cer Matthew Har­rity, 26, who was driv­ing their squad car and had been in the force for just a year.

Crit­ics claim the cadet train­ing pro­gram from which Mr Noor grad­u­ated doesn’t of­fer broad enough ex­pe­ri­ence, with one say­ing its “all tac­tics and no strat­egy”.

Crim­i­nol­o­gist James Dens­ley said it was “rig­or­ous, no doubt, but it is also an im­mer­sive para­mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence, taught by prac­ti­tion­ers with­out ad­vanced de­grees, and I sus­pect it leaves stu­dents with a lim­ited view of the pro­fes­sion”.

For­mer chief Harteau was forced to de­fend Mr Noor’s train­ing, telling a press con­fer­ence last week “we have a very ro­bust field train­ing of­fi­cer pro­gram which, I’ve been told by the train­ing of­fi­cers, he did well”.

“There was no in­di­ca­tion there would be any is­sues,” she said the day be­fore her res­ig­na­tion.

Min­neapo­lis Po­lice de­fended the pro­gram. “The MPD Cadet Pro­gram started back in 1989 and has helped the MPD hire a num­ber of highly qual­i­fied and dec­o­rated of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing many of our cur­rent Chiefs, In­spec­tors, and Com­man­ders,” the depart­ment said.

Mr Noor has re­fused to ex­plain his ac­tions to the in­ves­ti­gat­ing Bureau of Crim­i­nal Ap­pre­hen­sion, but Of­fi­cer Har­rity told in­ves­ti­ga­tors his part­ner fired his ser­vice re­volver from the pas­sen­ger seat through the driver side door. He de­scribed a loud sound, like a bang­ing on a car.

Ms Da­mond’s fam­ily said through their lawyer they don’t want Mr Noor, who is on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave pend­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, to ever work as a po­lice of­fi­cer again.

“It’s quite clearly an im­proper use of deadly force on some­one who it is im­pos­si­ble for me to con­ceive of as a threat to any­one,” said Bob Ben­nett, who also rep­re­sents the fam­ily of cop vic­tim Phi­lando Castile.

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