The Press

Justine Damond ‘did not have to die’


UNITED STATES: The head of the Minneapoli­s Police Department says that Australian woman Justine Damond did not have to die.

Minneapoli­s Police Chief Janee Harteau cut short her leave to return to the city where the Australian woman was gunned down by an officer on Saturday (local time).

Addressing a press conference, she said she had spoken to s Damond’s grieving fiance Don and assured him a full and fair investigat­ion into the shooting would take place.

‘‘I will do everything in my power to make sure due process is followed and justice is served,’’ she said.

‘‘Justine did not have to die, based on the preliminar­ily released informatio­n from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehensi­on, this should not have happened.

‘‘On our squad cars you will find the words: ‘To protect with courage and serve with compassion.’ This did not happen.’’

She told the media that, while she was proud of the department’s current training practices, the officers Mohamed Noor and Matthew Harrity should have been using their body cameras.

‘‘My expectatio­n is that our policy is followed,’ she said. ’’It is my belief that the body cameras should have been activated.’’

Officer training is under review as Minneapoli­s residents and Damond’s family struggle to understand why Noor shot her at close range after she made a 911 call to report a suspected assault behind her home.

‘‘I cannot imagine the impact this has had on Justine’s family,’’ the police chief said.

‘‘This has had a negative impact on the community trust we have built.’’

The shooting has led to claims the Minneapoli­s Police Department’s officers are ‘‘trigger happy’’, but the chief said Officer Noor’s actions did not indicate a systemic problem.

‘‘We are talking about one individual’s actions in question,’’ she said. ’’The death of Justine should not have happened.’’

Harteau added her voice to the many who have urged Noor to speak to investigat­ors about the shooting in an alleyway behind Damond’s home.

Damond’s family have indicated they may take legal action against the City of Minneapoli­s after the death of the 40-year-old yoga teacher who was not armed when she was shot.

The lawyer representi­ng the family, Robert Bennett, has dismissed claims the officers were startled by a loud noise immediatel­y before Damond was shot by Noor, who was sitting in the passenger seat of his squad car.

‘‘She obviously wasn’t armed, was not a threat to anyone, and nor could she have reasonably perceived to be,’’ he said. - Fairfax

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Janee Harteau

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