Loud noise, then fa­tal shot, part­ner says

Au­thor­i­ties re­lease first in­for­ma­tion on woman’s killing by Min­neapo­lis of­fi­cer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - AMY FOR­L­ITI On the Web De­tails on re­cent po­lice shoot­ings nwadg.com/ shot-by-po­lice In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Jeff Bae­nen and Doug Glass of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — An Aus­tralian woman who called 911 to re­port a pos­si­ble as­sault was shot and killed by a Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer af­ter the of­fi­cer’s part­ner was star­tled by a loud sound near their squad car, the part­ner told in­ves­ti­ga­tors Tues­day.

The Min­nesota Bureau of Crim­i­nal Ap­pre­hen­sion said Jus­tine Da­mond, 40, ap­proached the driver’s- side win­dow of the squad car im­me­di­ately af­ter the driver had been star­tled by the sound. The of­fi­cer in the pas­sen­ger seat, Mo­hamed Noor, fired his weapon, hit­ting Da­mond through the open driver’s-side win­dow, the bureau said.

Th e bureau said its in­for­ma­tion was based on an in­ter­view with the of­fi­cer driv­ing the car, Matthew Har­rity. Har­rity was in­ter­viewed Tues­day, but Noor de­clined to be in­ter­viewed. The bureau said his at­tor­ney did not in­di­cate when, or whether, Noor would talk to in­ves­ti­ga­tors, and un­der the law an in­ter­view can’t be com­pelled.

Mes­sages left with Noor’s at­tor­ney, Tom Plun­kett, were not im­me­di­ately re­turned Tues­day.

Har­rity and Noor are on paid ad­min­is­tra­tive leave. Har­rity has been with the Min­neapo­lis depart­ment for a year, and Noor has been with the depart­ment for nearly two.

The in­for­ma­tion re­leased Tues­day is the first nar­ra­tive by the bureau since Satur­day night’s shoot­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the bureau, Har­rity told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he and Noor re­sponded to a 911 call from Da­mond about a pos­si­ble as­sault near her home about 11:30 p.m. Satur­day.

Har­rity was driv­ing the squad car as the of­fi­cers went through an al­ley to look for an as­sailant. The car’s lights were off.

Har­rity told agents that he was star­tled by a loud sound near the cruiser, and im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward, Da­mond ap­proached the driver’s-side win­dow and that is when Noor fired his weapon.

No weapon was found at the scene. The of­fi­cers did not turn on their body cam­eras un­til af­ter the shoot­ing, and the squad car cam­era also was not ac­ti­vated.

Har­rity told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that af­ter the shoot­ing, the of­fi­cers got out of the car and gave Da­mond im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Har­rity said he and Noor saw a man, es­ti­mated to be be­tween 18 and 25, bi­cy­cling in the area be­fore the shoot­ing. That man stopped and watched as of­fi­cers at­tended to Da­mond. Bureau of Crim­i­nal Ap­pre­hen­sion agents are ask­ing that man and any other po­ten­tial wit­nesses to come for­ward.

The bureau said that un­less more peo­ple come for­ward, there are no ad­di­tional in­ter­views sched­uled.

David Klinger, a crim­i­nal-jus­tice pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri- St. Louis, said po­lice of­fi­cers can’t be com­pelled to tes­tify in an out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Po­lice of­fi­cers are cit­i­zens. … They have the same Fifth Amend­ment right as any­one. They don’t have to give a state­ment,” Klinger said. “His lawyer might be say­ing, you’re not go­ing to talk un­til I feel you’re rested and not un­der stress.”

In a news con­fer­ence af­ter the bureau’s up­date, Min­neapo­lis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she wished Noor would speak to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“It’s frus­trat­ing to have some of the pic­ture but not all of it,” she said. “We can­not com­pel of­fi­cer Noor to make a state­ment. I wish we could. I wish that he would make a state­ment.”

As­sis­tant Chief Medaria Ar­radondo said the depart­ment is re­view­ing its pol­icy on body cam­eras and was do­ing so be­fore Da­mond’s death. Ar­radondo said the depart­ment is just eight months into a de­part­men­twide roll­out, and the re­view in­cludes fo­cus­ing on how of­ten of­fi­cers ac­ti­vate them. He said the depart­ment wants to in­crease that frequency.

The city also said it planned to re­lease a tran­script of Da­mond’s 911 call af­ter it is shared with fam­ily mem­bers. Of­fi­cials had ini­tially de­clined to make it pub­lic.

The bureau also said foren­sic test­ing is be­ing com­pleted and ev­i­dence is still be­ing ex­am­ined. When the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is done, the bureau will present all its find­ings to pros­e­cu­tors for pos­si­ble charges.

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull, in an in­ter­view to­day with Aus­tralia’s To­day show, joined the cho­rus de­mand­ing an­swers about what hap­pened.

“How can a woman out in the street in her pa­ja­mas seek­ing as­sis­tance from po­lice be shot like that? It is a shock­ing killing,” Turn­bull said.

Plun­kett re­leased a state­ment Mon­day say­ing Noor ex­tends his con­do­lences to the fam­ily and oth­ers af­fected by Da­mond’s death. The state­ment said Noor en­tered the U.S. at a young age and is thank­ful to have had many op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“He takes these events very se­ri­ously be­cause, for him, be­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer is a call­ing,” the state­ment said. “He joined the po­lice force to serve the com­mu­nity and to pro­tect the peo­ple he serves.”

Da­mond, who was plan­ning to be mar­ried next month, was a med­i­ta­tion teacher and life coach. Her maiden name was Jus­tine Ruszczyk, and though she was not yet mar­ried, she had al­ready been us­ing her fi­ance’s last name.

Noor joined the Po­lice Depart­ment in March 2015, and his as­sign­ment to a Min­neapo­lis neigh­bor­hood was pub­li­cized by city lead­ers and the So­mali im­mi­grant com­mu­nity.

A city news­let­ter said hun­dreds of peo­ple at­tended that event. The news­let­ter said Noor has a de­gree in eco­nom­ics and busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion from Augs­burg Col­lege. Be­fore be­com­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer, he worked in com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial prop­erty man­age­ment in Min­neapo­lis and in the St. Louis area.

But Noor’s short time on the force has not been without blem­ish.

Records from the city’s Of­fice of Po­lice Con­duct Re­view show Noor has had three com­plaints against him. Two are pend­ing, and the third was dis­missed without dis­ci­pline. Un­der state law, de­tails of open cases and cases that re­sult in no dis­ci­pline are not re­leased.

Noor was also sued ear­lier this year af­ter a May 25 in­ci­dent in which he and other of­fi­cers took a woman to the hos­pi­tal for an ap­par­ent men­tal-health cri­sis. The law­suit claims Noor and other of­fi­cers vi­o­lated the woman’s rights when they en­tered her home without per­mis­sion and Noor grabbed her wrist and up­per arm. The law­suit, which is pend­ing, said Noor re­laxed his grip when the woman said she had a pre­vi­ous shoul­der in­jury.

“How can a woman out in the street in her pa­ja­mas seek­ing as­sis­tance from po­lice be shot like that? It is a shock­ing killing.” — Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull


A woman leaves flow­ers Mon­day at a makeshift me­mo­rial in Min­neapo­lis at the scene where a Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer shot and killed Jus­tine Da­mond of Aus­tralia.


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