Shooting of Justine Damond

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Shooting of Justine Damond
Date July 15, 2017
11:41 p.m. CDT (UTC–5)[1]
Location W. 51st Street alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues, Fulton, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Coordinates 44°54′39″N 93°19′06″W / 44.91071°N 93.31823°W / 44.91071; -93.31823Coordinates: 44°54′39″N 93°19′06″W / 44.91071°N 93.31823°W / 44.91071; -93.31823
Type Homicide by firearm
Participants MPD Officer Mohamed Noor
Deaths Justine Damond

On July 15, 2017, Justine Ruszczyk, also known as Justine Damond,[2] a 40-year-old Australian-American woman, was shot and killed by Mohamed Noor, a Minneapolis Police Department officer, after she had called 9-1-1 to report the possible assault of a woman in an alley behind her house. Noor was subsequently arrested for murder.

Occurring weeks after a high-profile manslaughter trial acquittal in the 2016 police shooting of Philando Castile, also in the Twin Cities metro area, the shooting exacerbated existing tensions and attracted national and international press.[3][4][5]

Background[edit]

Victim[edit]

Justine Maia Ruszczyk (April 4, 1977 – July 15, 2017) grew up in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, Australia and attended Manly High School.[6] She graduated in 2002 from the University of Sydney as a veterinarian, then worked as a spiritual healer and meditation coach. She met Don Damond, a U.S. citizen, while attending a neuroscience workshop.[7] The couple became engaged on December 29, 2014,[8] and planned to marry in August 2017. Ruszczyk had taken Damond's family name ahead of their marriage.[9] Damond held dual Australia and United States citizenship, as her father, John Ruszczyk, holds US citizenship.[10]

Police officers[edit]

Mohamed M. Noor (then 32 years old), was identified as the officer who shot Damond. His partner, Officer Matthew Harrity (then 25 years old), was the driver of their squad car.[11] At the time of the shooting, Noor had been with the Minneapolis Police Department for 21 months; Harrity had been on the force for one year.

Noor had been lauded in the past by Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges and the local Somali community as one of the first Somali-American police officers in the area.[12]

In two years as a police officer, Noor had three formal complaints against him, two of which, as of September 2017, are pending resolution. In a separate case from May 2017, he is being sued for allegedly assaulting a woman.[13]

Following the deadly shooting, the Star Tribune reported Noor's police training had been "fast tracked"; some suburban police departments see the cadet programs as a way to add diversity to their police forces.[14] Noor's police training had been part of the cadet program for the Minneapolis Police Department, an accelerated[14] seven-month program aimed at candidates who already have a college degree and wish to enter law enforcement. Former police chief Janeé Harteau stood by Noor's training:

We have a very robust training and hiring process ... This officer completed that training very well, just like every officer. He was very suited to be on the street ... I believe the actions in question go against who we are as a department, how we train, and the expectations we are as a department. These were the actions of one individual.[15]

MPD and Council Member Elizabeth Glidden denied news reports of there being a 'fast-track' MPD training program.[16][17]

The incident[edit]

Damond called 9-1-1 once and then again, eight minutes later, on the evening of the shooting. She reported that she thought she heard a woman either having sex or being raped.[18] Officers searched the area and found no suspects or signs of the suspected rape that had prompted Damond's telephone calls to 9-1-1.[19]

According to the account by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, the officers were driving through an alley, the lights on their squad car off, looking for an assault suspect. "Officer Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad," the statement said. Immediately afterward, Ms. Damond "approached the driver's side window of the squad car. Harrity indicated that Officer Noor discharged his weapon," striking her through the open driver's-side window.[20]

There have been conflicting reports concerning how many times Damond was shot. Some sources have claimed Noor fired a single shot,[21] while it was reported that Damond was shot multiple times.[22] The officers attempted CPR to no avail; Damond died 20 minutes later.[23]

Both officers had their body cameras switched off.[24] Minneapolis introduced police body cameras in 2016, but their activation is not mandatory in all situations.[25] According to MPD protocol, officers are required to activate body cameras for "all citizen contact".

Investigators were looking for an unidentified witness, a bicyclist, who stopped nearby while the officers were administering CPR.[26] They subsequently located and interviewed the bicyclist. While officials have not confirmed nor denied it, it has been reported that this witness recorded at least some portion of the incident.[23]

Reactions[edit]

Attorney statements[edit]

Harrity's attorney, Fred Bruno, told the Star Tribune "it's certainly reasonable" to assume any officer would be concerned about an ambush. He referenced the recent death of a New York City officer killed in her squad car.[27]

Damond's family retained attorney Robert Bennett, the same lawyer who represented the family of Philando Castile. In a televised interview, he dismissed the claims of Harrity's attorney (that it was reasonable for the officers to fear ambush) as "disinformation".[28]

Local[edit]

On July 16, 2017 there was a vigil in her honor at the site of her death in the alleyway entrance located on the north side of West 51st Street between Xerxes Avenue South and Washburn Avenue South in Minneapolis.[29]

On July 20, 2017, hundreds marched to Beard's Plaisance Park in Minneapolis, in honor of Damond.[30]

A memorial service for Damond was held on 11 August 2017 on the shore of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. The service was at the bandshell and there was a silent walk around the lake afterwards. It was attended by Damond's family and fiancé, and about 1000 mourners.[31][32]

Police[edit]

On July 20, 2017, Minneapolis Chief of Police Janeé Harteau returned from a vacation and told a press conference, "Justine didn't have to die". Harteau said "I would prefer Officer Noor would speak".[33]

The next day, Harteau resigned as police chief, at the request of mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she had lost confidence in the Chief's ability to lead, and that Harteau had lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well.[34][35]

Harteau was subsequently awarded the national title of Woman Law Enforcement Executive of the Year on August 3, 2017.[36]

United States[edit]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a statement calling the disuse of body cameras "unacceptable". Blue Lives Matter countered, claiming officers making a simple area check have no reason to use them. The ACLU answered that police should at least start recording after a shooting occurs.[37]

Republican Michele Bachmann, who had represented Minnesota's 6th congressional district in the U.S. Congress from January 2007 through January 2015, said that Noor was an "affirmative-action hire," and also said, "Noor comes from the mandated cover-up women culture. That's why I'm wondering if they'll ask whether his cultural views led him to shoot her. That's something, if true, I can't imagine the progressives would allow to get out."[38]

Australia[edit]

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Australian government wanted answers:[39]

This is a shocking killing. It's inexplicable. How can a woman out in the street in her pajamas seeking assistance from the police be shot like that? We are demanding answers on behalf of her family. It's truly a tragic killing there in Minneapolis. Something clearly went tragically wrong. It seems inexplicable. It's a tragic loss.

Damond's family and friends held a sunrise vigil for her at Freshwater Beach on July 19, 2017.[40] A further sunrise vigil was conducted at the same beach on July 15, 2018.[41]

Investigation[edit]

An application for a search warrant to search the alley where the shooting occurred, referring to the shooting incident, stated: "Upon police arrival, a female 'slaps' the back of the patrol squad. After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley."[42] Among items collected were fingerprints from the rear cargo door window of the squad car.[43]

Hours after the shooting, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators controversially obtained a second search warrant and carried out a search of Damond's home for evidence, including 'bodily fluids, controlled substances, and writings'. They did not take anything from the property.[44][45]

Noor has so far refused to speak with investigators and has retained a private attorney.[46] Noor and Harrity are on paid administrative leave.[47]

In February, 2018, a grand jury was convened to investigate Damond's death.[48] On February 15, 2018, Harrity appeared before the jury.[49]

On March 20, 2018, a warrant was issued for third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges and Noor turned himself in to police.[50]

Aftermath[edit]

Less than two weeks after the shooting, Minneapolis acting police chief Medaria Arradondo announced that police officer body camera usage would now be mandatory during all calls and traffic stops.[51]

Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis police officers union, said the change was a "knee-jerk reaction", and that the union objects to having cameras recording while officers are on the way to a call. "Officers' tactics discussed with one another while responding to a call should not be publicly disseminated", he said.[52]

A documentary on the life and death of Damond was shown on ABC TV Australian Story in November 2017.[53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Damond timeline highlights two mystery minutes after police arrived". ABC News. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017. 
  2. ^ Woman killed by Minneapolis police a month before wedding, CNN, July 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Laughland, Oliver (July 18, 2017). "Minneapolis officer who allegedly shot Justine Damond offers condolences". The Guardian. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Justine Damond fatally shot through door of Minneapolis police car, sources say". BBC. July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  5. ^ Mitchell, Peter (July 18, 2017). "Police officer who shot Justine Damond had less than two years' experience". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Justine Ruszczyk Damond". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 3, 2017. 
  7. ^ Benny-Morrison, Ava; Browne, Rachel (July 17, 2017). "'She was just infectious': friends mourn Sydney woman killed in US police shooting". Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  8. ^ "Security Check Required". www.facebook.com. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  9. ^ Press, Australian Associated; Goyette, Jared (July 16, 2017). "Australian Justine Damond shot dead by US police in Minneapolis". Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via The Guardian. 
  10. ^ "Woman killed by Minneapolis police a month before wedding". CNN. Retrieved July 23, 2017. 
  11. ^ Park, Madison; Grinberg, Emanuella; Yan, Holly (July 16, 2017). "Minneapolis woman killed by police: What we know and don't know". CNN. Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via The Guardian. 
  12. ^ "Somali immigrant cop Mohamed Noor, who shot Justine Damond, was 'highly celebrated' by Minneapolis mayor in 2015". Fox News. July 18, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017. 
  13. ^ News, ABC. "Officials: Australian woman shot after cops heard loud sound". go.com. Retrieved July 20, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Fast-track training put officer Mohamed Noor on Minneapolis police force, Star Tribune, July 23, 2017
  15. ^ "Minneapolis police damning of officer who shot Justine". news.com.au. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  16. ^ Miles, Molly (2017-07-23). "There is No "Fast-Track" Training Option for MPD Officers". Minneapolis Police. Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  17. ^ "News Reports About 'Fast-Track Training' Are False: MPD". Southwest Minneapolis, MN Patch. 2017-07-24. Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  18. ^ Helsel, Phil. "Australian shot dead by Minneapolis officer called 911 twice". NBC News. Retrieved July 20, 2017. 
  19. ^ "The 911 call to report suspected rape that led to police shooting innocent woman minutes later". independent.co.uk. July 20, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2017. 
  20. ^ Bosman, Julie (2017-07-18). "Officer Heard Loud Noise Before Partner Shot Minneapolis Woman, Officials Say". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  21. ^ Pearce, Lara (July 19, 2017). "Minneapolis Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Justine Damond Refusing To Be Interviewed". Retrieved July 23, 2017 – via HuffingtonPost.com.au. 
  22. ^ "Cop who shot Australian dead in Minnesota had two years' experience". abc.net.au. July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017. 
  23. ^ a b "Witness in Justine Damond shooting comes forward, source says part of encounter was filmed". July 23, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  24. ^ "Australian Woman Shot Dead by Minneapolis Police Officer After Calling 911 Herself". nbcnews.com. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  25. ^ Brown, Heather (July 17, 2017). "Good Question: What Are The Policies On Body Cameras In Minneapolis?". WCCO-TV. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  26. ^ Augustine, Joe; Oakes, Michael (July 18, 2017). "Source: Cops Thought They Were Caught in Ambush". KSTP-TV. Retrieved July 20, 2017. 
  27. ^ Staff; Press, Associated (2017-07-20). "Justine Damond shooting: US lawyer hits back at officer's ambush claims". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  28. ^ "911 call transcript offers glimpse into Justine Damond's final moments before fatal shooting by Minneapolis police". Star Tribune. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017. 
  29. ^ Birkholz, Corey (September 4, 2017). "Australian woman shot, killed by Minneapolis police". Retrieved 4 September 2017 – via Fox 9. 
  30. ^ News, ABC. "Hundreds march from the site of Justine Damond's shooting to Beard's Plaisance Park during a march in honor of Damond Thursday, July 20, 2017, in Minneapolis. Damond, of Australia, was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer on Saturday, Jul". ABC News. Retrieved July 22, 2017. 
  31. ^ McGeough, Paul (August 12, 2017). "Sage, smoke, and questions: Justine Damond remembered at moving memorial" – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  32. ^ Birkholz, Corey (September 4, 2017). "Official Page with Program Schedule for the Minneapolis Memorial of Justine Damond". Retrieved 4 September 2017 – via Lake Harriet Spiritual Community. 
  33. ^ "Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau: 'Justine didn't have to die'". twincities.com. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigns". startribune.com. Retrieved July 22, 2017. 
  35. ^ Smith, Mitch (July 21, 2017). "Minneapolis Police Chief Forced Out After Fatal Shooting of Australian Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2017. 
  36. ^ Mitchell, Peter (August 4, 2017). "Justine Damond death: Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau awarded". Retrieved August 4, 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  37. ^ Fahrmann, Kyle (July 18, 2017). "ACLU calls lack of body camera use in shooting "unacceptable"". KMSP-TV (FOX9). Retrieved July 20, 2017. 
  38. ^ “The Most Innocent Victim”, Slate.com, July 24, 2017
  39. ^ Browne, Rachel. "Fireworks may have startled Justine Damond's killer, US police officer Mohamed Noor". Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  40. ^ Benny-Morrison, Ava (July 19, 2017). "Hundreds flock to Sydney's Freshwater Beach for vigil for Australian Justine Damond". Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  41. ^ Carlisle, Julia (July 15, 2018). "Sydney beach memorial for Justine Damond as family awaits justice". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  42. ^ Feshir, Riham. "Warrant: Woman slapped squad car before cop fatally shot Ruszczyk". Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  43. ^ "Search Warrants in Damond Shooting Indicate Woman Slapped Patrol Car". KSTP. Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  44. ^ Josh Rosenthal (July 25, 2017). "Authorities Searched Damond's Home; Law Prof Believes That Could 'Cause An International Incident'". KSTP News. 
  45. ^ Kate Darvall (July 26, 2017). "Experts baffled why investigators searched Justine Damond's house for DNA, weapons, and drugs after she was shot dead by a U.S. police officer". The Daily Mail. 
  46. ^ Pearce, Lara (July 19, 2017). "Minneapolis Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Justine Damond Refusing To Be Interviewed". Retrieved July 20, 2017 – via Huff Post. 
  47. ^ "Minneapolis officer says partner fired shot that killed Australian woman moments after loud sound". July 19, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017 – via LA Times. 
  48. ^ "Grand jury convenes in police shooting of Justine Damond". Pioneer Press. St. Paul, MN. February 6, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2018. 
  49. ^ Jany, Libor (February 15, 2018). "Partner of officer who shot Justine Damond appears before grand jury". Star-Tribune. Minneapolis, MN. Retrieved February 16, 2018. 
  50. ^ Police Officer Arrested Star Tribune
  51. ^ Moini, Nina (July 26, 2017). "'Body-Worn Cameras Must Be On': Mpls. Officials Announce MPD Policy Changes: Officers Must Turn On Camera For Every Call They Respond To". Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via WCCO-TV. 
  52. ^ Callaghan, Peter (July 27, 2017). "Did a policy aimed at building trust in the Minneapolis Police Department end up doing the opposite?". Retrieved July 27, 2017 – via MinnPost. 
  53. ^ "Without Rhyme or Reason". abc.net.au. November 20, 2017. Retrieved November 20, 2017. 

External links[edit]