RELATIVES DEMAND ANSWERS IN FATAL MINNESOTA POLICE SHOOTING
A bride-to-be reportedly was killed by an officer who fired from the passenger seat of a squad car as the woman stood outside the driver’s door.
MINNEAPOLIS» Relatives and neighbors of an Australian woman fatally shot by Minneapolis police during the weekend demanded answers Monday about the mysterious shooting in which the meditation teacher and bride-to-be was reportedly killed by an officer who fired from the passenger seat of a squad car as the woman stood outside the driver’s door.
Authorities released no details about what led to the shooting of Justine Damond, whose fiance said she had called 911 to report what she believed was a sexual assault in an alley near her home.
Police said only that officers were responding to a call about a possible assault late Saturday when she was killed. There were no known witnesses other than the two officers in the squad car that showed up. A newspaper report said Damond was shot while standing alongside the car in her pajamas.
Her fiancé, Don Damond, said the family has been given almost no additional information about what happened after police arrived.
“We’ve lost the dearest of people, and we’re desperate for information,” he said. “Piecing together Justine’s last moments before the homicide would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy.”
Damond’s family members in Australia also 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 under- stand why this has happened.”
Authorities did not release the woman’s name, but the Star Tribune identified her as Damond, from Sydney, Australia. The newspaper reported that she was engaged to be married in August and was using her fiancé’s last name. Her maiden name was Justine Ruszczyk.
Almost two days after her death, police offered no public explanation and referred questions to the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which was investigating. A Monday statement from the BCA said more information would be provided once the officers were interviewed.
The BCA said Monday that no weapons were found at the scene.
Local media identified the officer who fired as Mohamed Noor, who is a SomaliAmerican. A city newsletter said he joined the police department in March 2015.
His attorney, Tom Plunkett, released a statement saying Noor offered his condolences to the family “and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers.”
The statement added: “He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves. Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.”
The Star Tribune, citing three people with knowledge of the shooting it did not name, said the officers pulled into the alley in a single squad car, and Damond talked to the driver. The newspaper’s sources said the officer in the passenger seat shot Damond through the driver’s door. A BCA spokeswoman did not return messages seeking to confirm that account.
Neighbor Joan Hargrave called the killing “an execution” and said there was no reason for a well-trained officer to see Damond 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.
Don Damond is comforted by friends and family after making a statement to the media near his home. His fiancée was shot and killed by a bullet fired by an officer through the door of Minneapolis squad car during the weekend.
Justine Damond of Sydney, Australia, was already using her fiancé’s last name.