Fi­ance of woman shot, killed by of­fi­cer says he lacks an­swers

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - By David Cha­nen and Andy Man­nix

MIN­NEAPO­LIS – The fi­ance of Jus­tine Da­mond, the woman shot and killed by a Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer in the al­ley be­hind her home Satur­day night, said his “ut­terly dev­as­tated” fam­ily has been told lit­tle by law en­force­ment about what tran­spired.

“We lost the dear­est of peo­ple and are des­per­ate for in­for­ma­tion,” Don Da­mond said Mon­day af­ter­noon. “Piec­ing to­gether Jus­tine’s last mo­ments be­fore the homi­cide would pro­vide small com­fort as we grieve this tragedy.”

The of­fi­cer who shot Da­mond has been iden­ti­fied as Of­fi­cer Mo­hamed Noor. Mean­while, state in­ves­ti­ga­tors have con­firmed that they did not find any weapons at the scene. Sources iden­ti­fied his part­ner on the scene, who did not fire any shots, as Of­fi­cer Matthew Har­rity.

Min­neapo­lis Po­lice Chief Ja­nee Harteau is­sued a state­ment Mon­day af­ter­noon say­ing she would re­quest a speedy in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing, which she called “tragic.”

“I have many of the same ques­tions and it is why we im­me­di­ately asked for an ex­ter­nal and in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ing death,” said Harteau, who is out of state “on a per­sonal com­mit­ment” but is re­ceiv­ing reg­u­lar brief­ings and will re­turn soon, ac­cord­ing to a po­lice spokesper­son. “I also want to as­sure you that I un­der­stand why so many peo­ple have so many ques­tions at this point. I’ve asked for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to be ex­pe­dited to pro­vide trans­parency and to an­swer as many ques­tions as quickly as we can.”

Flanked by his fam­ily while stand­ing in front of his Ful­ton neigh­bor­hood home, Don Da­mond read a brief state­ment say­ing his fi­ance called 911 to re­port “what she be­lieved was an ac­tive sex­ual as­sault oc­cur­ring nearby.”

“Sadly, her fam­ily and I have been pro­vided with al­most no in­for­ma­tion from law en­force­ment re­gard­ing what hap­pened af­ter po­lice ar­rived.”

Emer­gency dis­patch au­dio posted on Po­ of­fers some in­sight into the re­sponse of po­lice and other emer­gency per­son­nel. The Twin Cities web­site mon­i­tors law en­force­ment scan­ner dis­patches and shares them on­line. “Fe­male scream­ing be­hind the build­ing,” says the dis­patcher at shortly be­fore 11:28 p.m.

Later, an of­fi­cer de­clares “shots fired,” and re­quests emer­gency med­i­cal per­son­nel. “We’ve got one down” quickly fol­lows.

A call was im­me­di­ately made for emer­gency med­i­cal per­son­nel to rush to the scene.

Af­ter the “shots fired” trans­mis­sion, the ini­ti­a­tion of CPR was re­ported from the scene, near the in­ter­sec­tion of Wash­burn Av­enue and 51st Street.

Af­ter the shoot­ing, an of­fi­cer says “no sus­pects at large.”

On Mon­day, the Min­nesota Bureau of Crim­i­nal Ap­pre­hen­sion said of­fi­cers were re­spond­ing to a 911 call of a “pos­si­ble as­sault.” “At one point an of­fi­cer fired their weapon, fa­tally strik­ing a woman,” the news re­lease said. “BCA crime scene per­son­nel lo­cated no weapons at the scene.”

The BCA con­firmed that an au­topsy has been com­pleted. Af­ter con­firm­ing that there was no body cam­era or dash­cam footage of the in­ci­dent, the agency said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion “does not de­ter­mine whether a law en­force­ment agency pol­icy was vi­o­lated. That would be re­viewed through the agency’s in­ter­nal af­fairs process.”

Don Da­mond was go­ing to marry Jus­tine Da­mond, who was from Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, in Au­gust. He de­scribed her as a teacher to many while “liv­ing a life of open­ness, love and kind­ness.”

While the cou­ple were not yet mar­ried, Jus­tine re­ferred to her­self as Da­mond on her per­sonal web­site. Her maiden name was Jus­tine Ruszczyk.

“Our lives are for­ever changed as a re­sult of know­ing her, she was so kind and so darn funny, she made us all laugh with her great wit and her hu­mor,” he said. “It is dif­fi­cult to fathom how to go for­ward without her in my life.”

The BCA has not of­fi­cially named Noor, but a source con­firmed that he was the shooter. At­tor­ney Tom Plun­kett is rep­re­sent­ing the of­fi­cer, but de­clined to iden­tify him.

The morn­ing after­ward about 200 peo­ple gath­ered Sun­day to mourn Da­mond. Lov­ing mes­sages re­main writ­ten in chalk on the side­walk near the scene, at the end of an al­ley. A bou­quet of flow­ers rested on the wind­shield of an SUV.

“This is about Jus­tine; it’s about Don, a hor­rific thing has hap­pened in their lives, but it re­ver­ber­ates through the com­mu­nity,” said neigh­bor Richard Bur­bach, look­ing on as Aus­tralian news crews gath­ered around the Da­mond home.

“I hope that the global me­dia can con­tinue to put enough fo­cus on this, that there is a kind of pres­sure that will pro­vide an es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent that will change polic­ing, not just in Min­neapo­lis but the coun­try as well.”

Min­nesota Gov. Mark Day­ton had no com­ment Mon­day on the shoot­ing. Law en­force­ment had pre­vi­ously crit­i­cized Day­ton for com­ments he made the day af­ter Phi­lando Castile was killed by for­mer St. An­thony Po­lice Of­fi­cer Jeron­imo Yanez.

“Would this have hap­pened if the driver were white, if the pas­sen­gers were white?” Day­ton asked last year. “I don’t think it would have . ... On be­half of all de­cent-minded Min­nesotans, we are shocked and hor­ri­fied. This kind of be­hav­ior is un­ac­cept­able.”

Lt. Bob Kroll, pres­i­dent of the Min­neapo­lis Po­lice Fed­er­a­tion as well as a spokesper­son with the So­mali Amer­i­can Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion, de­clined to com­ment un­til the BCA in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete.

Min­neapo­lis po­lice con­firmed that the two of­fi­cers in­volved are on paid ad­min­is­tra­tive leave, which is stan­dard pro­ce­dure.

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