Shoot­ing mo­tive re­mains un­clear

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Amy Forliti

Rel­a­tives and neigh­bors of an Aus­tralian woman who was killed by Min­neapo­lis po­lice over the week­end de­mand an­swers.

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — Rel­a­tives and neigh­bors of an Aus­tralian woman who was fa­tally shot by Min­neapo­lis po­lice over the week­end de­manded an­swers Mon­day about her death, with one call­ing the shoot­ing of the med­i­ta­tion teacher and bride-to-be “an ex­e­cu­tion.”

De­tails about what led to the shoot­ing re­mained un­clear, with au­thor­i­ties say­ing only that of­fi­cers were re­spond­ing to a 911 call about a pos­si­ble as­sault when she was killed.

The woman’s fam­ily mem­bers re­leased a state­ment Mon­day through Aus­tralia’s De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade, say­ing they “are try­ing to come to terms with this tragedy and to un­der­stand why this has hap­pened.”

Min­neapo­lis au­thor­i­ties have not re­leased the woman’s name. The Star Tri­bune news­pa­per iden­ti­fied her as Jus­tine Da­mond, 40, from Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. The news­pa­per re­ported that she was en­gaged to be mar­ried and had al­ready taken her fi­ance’s last name. Her maiden name was Jus­tine Ruszczyk.

The Bureau of Crim­i­nal Ap­pre­hen­sion re­leased a state­ment Sun­day say­ing two Min­neapo­lis of­fi­cers re­sponded to the call late Satur­day. At some point, an of­fi­cer fired a gun, hit­ting Da­mond. The BCA said Mon­day that no weapons were found at the scene.

Lo­cal me­dia iden­ti­fied the of­fi­cer who fired his weapon as Mo­hamed Noor, who is a So­mali-Amer­i­can.

His at­tor­ney, Tom Plun­kett, re­leased a state­ment to Min­neapo­lis tele­vi­sion sta­tion WCCO say­ing: “We take this se­ri­ously with great com­pas­sion for all per­sons who are be­ing touched by this.” Plun­kett did not re­turn mes­sages left by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Ac­cord­ing to a city newslet­ter, Noor joined the de­part­ment in March 2015.

The Star Tri­bune, cit­ing three peo­ple with knowl­edge of the shoot­ing it did not name, said Da­mond had been the one to call 911 about a pos­si­ble as­sault in the al­ley be­hind her house.

The three peo­ple said two of­fi­cers pulled into the al­ley in a sin­gle squad car. Da­mond, wear­ing pa­ja­mas, stood at the driver’s side door and talked to the driver. The news­pa­per’s sources said the of­fi­cer in the pas­sen­ger seat shot Da­mond through the driver’s side door.

Po­lice re­ferred ques­tions to the BCA. A spokes­woman for the agency did not re­turn mes­sages seek­ing to con­firm that ac­count. A Mon­day state­ment from the BCA said more in­for­ma­tion would be pro­vided once the of­fi­cers were in­ter­viewed.

Neigh­bor Joan Har­grave called the killing “an ex­e­cu­tion” and said there was no rea­son for a well-trained of­fi­cer to see her as a threat.

“This is a tragedy — that some­one who’s ask­ing for help would call the po­lice and get shot by the po­lice,” Har­grave said.

Of­fi­cials said the of­fi­cers’ body cam­eras were not turned on and that a squad car cam­era did not cap­ture the shoot­ing. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were still try­ing to de­ter­mine whether other video ex­ists.

It’s not clear why the of­fi­cers’ body cam­eras were not turned on. The de­part­ment’s pol­icy al­lows for a range of sit­u­a­tions in which of­fi­cers are sup­posed to do so, in­clud­ing “any con­tact in­volv­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity” and be­fore use of force. If a body cam­era is not turned on be­fore use of force, it’s sup­posed to be turned on as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Once the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete, it would be up to Hen­nepin County At­tor­ney Mike Free­man to de­cide whether to charge the of­fi­cer.


Peo­ple lis­ten to a speaker at a Sun­day vigil for shoot­ing vic­tim Jus­tine Da­mond.

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