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On July 15, 2017, Justine Ruszczyk, also known as Justine Damond,[2][3] a 40-year-old Australian-American woman, was shot and killed by Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American 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 ultimately arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder following an eight-month investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. In April 2019, Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter, but acquitted of intentional second-degree murder.[4] In June 2019, Noor was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.[5] Damond's family brought a civil lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis alleging violation of Damond's civil rights, which the city settled for $US20 million,[6] one of the largest-ever settlements in a suit involving a police killing.[5]

Shooting of Justine Damond
DateJuly 15, 2017
11:41 p.m. CDT (UTC–5)[1]
LocationW. 51st Street alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues, Fulton, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Coordinates44°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
TypeHomicide by firearm
ParticipantsMPD Officer Mohamed Noor
DeathsJustine Damond
ConvictedMohamed Noor
ConvictionsThird-degree murder and manslaughter
Sentence12.5 years

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.[7][8][9]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

VictimEdit

 
Justine Damond

Justine Maia Ruszczyk (April 4, 1977 – July 15, 2017) grew up in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and attended Manly High School.[10] 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.[11] The couple became engaged on December 29, 2014,[12] and planned to marry in August 2017. Ruszczyk had taken Damond's family name ahead of their marriage.[13] Damond held dual Australia and United States citizenship, as her father, John Ruszczyk, holds US citizenship.[14]

PerpetratorEdit

Mohamed Mohamed Noor[15] (born October 10, 1985),[16] was the officer who shot Damond. Noor's partner, Matthew Harrity (then 25 years old), was the driver of their squad car.[17] 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.[18] 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.[17]

In two years as a police officer, Noor had three formal complaints against him, two of which, as of September 2017, were pending resolution. In a separate case from May 2017, he is being sued for allegedly assaulting a woman while on duty.[19]

Following the deadly shooting, the Star Tribune reported Noor's police training had been "fast tracked", making reference to the seven-month immersive training program for cadets; some suburban police departments see the cadet programs as a way to add diversity to their police forces quickly.[20] Noor's police training had been part of the cadet program for the Minneapolis Police Department, an accelerated[20] 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.[21]

On July 23, 2017, MPD and Council Member Elizabeth Glidden denied news reports of there being a "fast-track" seven-month MPD training program.[22][23] In September 2018, it was reported that in 2015 two psychiatrists and other training officers had raised concerns about Noor's fitness for police duty.[24]

KillingEdit

Damond called 9-1-1 at 11:27 p.m. and then again, eight minutes later, at 11:35 p.m., on the evening of the shooting.[25] She reported that she thought she heard a woman either having sex or being raped.[26] Dispatchers categorized the call as "unknown trouble: female screaming"—a relatively low priority.[27] Officers responded to the area, the low-crime neighborhood of Fulton in southwestern Minneapolis,[27] and found no suspects or signs of the suspected rape that had prompted Damond's telephone calls to 9-1-1.[28]

Officers Noor and Harrity, after driving through an alley with the lights on their police Ford Explorer off, heard no signs of criminal activity.[27] Noor then "entered 'Code Four' into the cruiser's computer, meaning the scene was safe" as the two partners prepared to leave.[27] Harrity then indicated "that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad" and immediately afterward, Ms. Damond approached the driver's side window of the police car.[29] Harrity drew his weapon and pointed it downward, but did not fire.[30] Noor, however, filed a single shot from his weapon through the open window, striking Damond in the chest, killing her.[29][27] Damond was unarmed and barefoot when she was fatally shot.[27] Harrity later told a supervisor that "We both got spooked."[27] At Noor's trial, Harrity testified that he heard "something hit the car and I also hear some sort of murmur" and that he feared an "ambush," but agreed that it was "premature" to use deadly force.[30] Noor testified that did not see Damond's hand or any object in the hand, but nonetheless believed that his partner "feared for his life" and "there was a threat."[31] At Noor's trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Damond's fingerprints were not on the police car, suggesting she never made contact with it, and prosecutors called two expert witnesses on the police use of force, who testified that Noor's decision to shoot was unreasonable.[32]

The officers attempted CPR to no avail; Damond died 20 minutes later.[33]

Both officers had their body cameras switched off.[34] Minneapolis introduced police body cameras in 2016, but their activation at the time was not mandatory in all situations.[35] As a result, no audio or video recordings captured the killing,[27] although a 16-year-old bicyclist took cell phone video of the scene after the shooting.[36]

ReactionsEdit

Attorney statementsEdit

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.[37]

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".[38]

United StatesEdit

The day after the killing, a vigil in Damond's honor was held 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.[39] Several days after the killing, hundreds marched to Beard's Plaisance Park in Minneapolis, in honor of Damond.[40] 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.[41][42]

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.[43]

On July 19, 2017, Republican Michele Bachmann, who had represented Minnesota's 6th congressional district in the U.S. Congress from January 2007 through January 2015, stated during a speech at the Eighth Annual Hog Roast and Republican gubernatorial forum in Waconia that Noor was an "affirmative-action hire". Speaking to World Net Daily, Bachmann stated, "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."[44]

AustraliaEdit

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Australian government wanted answers:[45]

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.[46] A further sunrise vigil was conducted at the same beach on July 15, 2018.[47]

Investigation and prosecution of NoorEdit

InvestigationEdit

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."[48] Among items collected were fingerprints from the rear cargo door window of the squad car.[49]

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.[50][51] Noor refused to speak with investigators, invoking his right against self-incrimination.[52][53] Noor and Harrity were then on paid administrative leave.[54]

In February 2018, a grand jury was convened to investigate Damond's death.[55] On February 15, 2018, Harrity appeared before the grand jury.[56]

Trial and convictionEdit

On March 20, 2018, a warrant was issued for third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges, and Noor turned himself in to police. He also resigned from the force.[57] With the approval of the court, prosecutors later upgraded the charges against Noor to second-degree intentional murder.[58][59]

On April 30, 2019, Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.[60] Under Minnesota law, third-degree murder is defined as "a person causing the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and without regard for human life, but without intent to cause the death of any person"; second-degree manslaughter is defined as "whoever by culpable negligence, whereby he creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to another person, causes the death of another is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree".[61]

The Somali-American Police Association issued a statement after the verdict claiming that racial bias contributed to Noor's conviction.[62]

In May 2019, Noor's attorneys lodged a motion for acquittal on both charges, arguing that the evidence was insufficient.[63][64]

On June 7, 2019, Noor was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.[5]

AftermathEdit

Minneapolis Chief of Police Janeé Harteau was on vacation at the time of Damond's killing, and continued her vacation for four days, rather than immediately returning to Minneapolis after the killing.[65] After returning to the city, Harteau said at a press conference, "Justine didn't have to die...The death of Justine should not have happened." Regarding Noor's refusal to speak to investigators, Harteau said "I would prefer Officer Noor would speak".[66] Less than a week after Damond's killing, Harteau was ousted, after Mayor Betsy Hodges said that she and the city had lost confidence in Harteau's ability to lead.[67][68] The police shootings were a contributing factor to Hodges losing her bid for reelection in 2017.[69]

Following the shooting, Minneapolis acting police chief Medaria Arradondo announced that police officers would be required to turn on body-worn cameras during all calls and traffic stops.[70] Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis police officers' union, objected to having cameras recording while officers are on the way to a call, saying that officers' discussion of tactics "while responding to a call should not be publicly disseminated."[71]

A documentary on the life and death of Damond was shown on Australian Story in November 2017 on ABC TV.[72]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "Family of Australian Woman Shot by Police Sues Minneapolis". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  4. ^ Mitch Smith, Minneapolis Police Officer Convicted of Murder in Shooting of Australian Woman, New York Times (April 20, 2014).
  5. ^ a b c Matt Furber and Mitch Smith (June 7, 2010). "Somali-American Police Officer Sentenced to 12.5 Years in Death of Minneapolis Woman". New York Times.
  6. ^ Forliti, Amy (May 4, 2019). "'Not a victory to anyone': Damond's family awarded $US20 million". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  7. ^ Laughland, Oliver (July 18, 2017). "Minneapolis officer who allegedly shot Justine Damond offers condolences". The Guardian. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  8. ^ "Justine Damond fatally shot through door of Minneapolis police car, sources say". BBC. July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Justine Ruszczyk Damond". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Security Check Required". www.facebook.com. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Woman killed by Minneapolis police a month before wedding". CNN. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  15. ^ "Minneapolis police officer charged with murder, manslaughter in Justine Damond case". March 20, 2018.
  16. ^ https://www.hennepinattorney.org/-/media/Attorney/NEWS/2018/Noor-Mohamed-cplt.pdf
  17. ^ a b 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.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ News, ABC. "Officials: Australian woman shot after cops heard loud sound". go.com. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  20. ^ a b Fast-track training put officer Mohamed Noor on Minneapolis police force, Star Tribune, July 23, 2017
  21. ^ "Minneapolis police damning of officer who shot Justine". news.com.au. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  22. ^ Miles, Molly (July 23, 2017). "There is No "Fast-Track" Training Option for MPD Officers". Minneapolis Police. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  23. ^ "News Reports About 'Fast-Track Training' Are False: MPD". Southwest Minneapolis, MN Patch. July 24, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  24. ^ Libor Jany (September 6, 2018). "Filing: Mohamed Noor raised red flags among psychiatrists, training officers". Star Tribune. Retrieved September 6, 2018. Noor was flagged by two psychiatrists during the pre-hiring evaluation in early 2015 after he exhibited an inability to handle the stress of regular police work and unwillingness to deal with people, according to the records.
  25. ^ "Ruszczyk's 911 call audio: Deep breath, worried voice". www.mprnews.org. May 23, 2019. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  26. ^ Helsel, Phil. "Australian shot dead by Minneapolis officer called 911 twice". NBC News. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h "A 911 Call, an Unarmed Woman and a Single Shot: The Mystery of a Police Shooting". New York Times. April 13, 2019.
  28. ^ "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.
  29. ^ a b Bosman, Julie (July 18, 2017). "Officer Heard Loud Noise Before Partner Shot Minneapolis Woman, Officials Say". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  30. ^ a b Amy Forliti, Partner of Mohamed Noor: Feared ambush before Justine Damond shot, Twin Cities Pioneer Press (April 18, 2019).
  31. ^ Tasneem Nashrulla, A Former Minnesota Cop Dramatically Testified About The Moment He Shot And Killed An Unarmed Australian Woman, BuzzFeed News (April 29, 2019).
  32. ^ Riham Feshir, Jon Collins & Brandt Williams, Noor trial: Closing arguments done, case goes to jury, MPR News (April 29, 2019).
  33. ^ "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.
  34. ^ "Australian Woman Shot Dead by Minneapolis Police Officer After Calling 911 Herself". nbcnews.com. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  35. ^ Brown, Heather (July 17, 2017). "Good Question: What Are The Policies On Body Cameras In Minneapolis?". WCCO-TV. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  36. ^ Jon Collins & Riham Feshir, Noor trial: Bicyclist's testimony heavy on drama, light on facts, MPR News (April 17, 2019).
  37. ^ Staff; Press, Associated (July 20, 2017). "Justine Damond shooting: US lawyer hits back at officer's ambush claims". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  38. ^ "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.
  39. ^ Birkholz, Corey (September 4, 2017). "Australian woman shot, killed by Minneapolis police". Retrieved September 4, 2017 – via Fox 9.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ McGeough, Paul (August 12, 2017). "Sage, smoke, and questions: Justine Damond remembered at moving memorial" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  42. ^ Birkholz, Corey (September 4, 2017). "Official Page with Program Schedule for the Minneapolis Memorial of Justine Damond". Retrieved September 4, 2017 – via Lake Harriet Spiritual Community.
  43. ^ Fahrmann, Kyle (July 18, 2017). "ACLU calls lack of body camera use in shooting "unacceptable"". KMSP-TV (FOX9). Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  44. ^ “The Most Innocent Victim”, Slate.com, July 24, 2017
  45. ^ Browne, Rachel. "Fireworks may have startled Justine Damond's killer, US police officer Mohamed Noor". Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ Carlisle, Julia (July 15, 2018). "Sydney beach memorial for Justine Damond as family awaits justice". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  48. ^ Feshir, Riham. "Warrant: Woman slapped squad car before cop fatally shot Ruszczyk". Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  49. ^ "Search Warrants in Damond Shooting Indicate Woman Slapped Patrol Car". KSTP. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  50. ^ Josh Rosenthal (July 25, 2017). "Authorities Searched Damond's Home; Law Prof Believes That Could 'Cause An International Incident'". KSTP News.
  51. ^ 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.
  52. ^ Chao Xiong, Prosecution's case against Noor takes a hit with restrictions on trial evidence, Star Tribune (March 1, 2019).
  53. ^ Pearce, Lara (July 19, 2017). "Minneapolis Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Justine Damond Refusing To Be Interviewed". Retrieved July 20, 2017 – via Huff Post.
  54. ^ "Minneapolis officer says partner fired shot that killed Australian woman moments after loud sound". July 19, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017 – via LA Times.
  55. ^ "Grand jury convenes in police shooting of Justine Damond". Pioneer Press. St. Paul, MN. February 6, 2018. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  56. ^ Jany, Libor (February 15, 2018). "Partner of officer who shot Justine Damond appears before grand jury". Star-Tribune. Minneapolis, MN. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  57. ^ Police Officer Arrested Star Tribune
  58. ^ Candace Suttin (December 8, 2018). "Murder charge upgraded against Justine Damond policeman". news.com.au.
  59. ^ Forliti, Amy (December 1, 2018). "Prosecutors seek intentional murder charge against ex-cop who killed Justine Damond". twincities.com.
  60. ^ "Justine Damond: US policeman guilty of Australian's murder". BBC News. April 30, 2019.
  61. ^ Justine Ruszcyk trial: the inside story
  62. ^ "Police association claims racial prejudice played major role in Mohamed Noor's conviction". ABC News. May 2, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  63. ^ Mohammed Noor to seekacquittal abc.net.au
  64. ^ Mohammed Noor appeals conviction 9news.com.au
  65. ^ Mitchell, Peter (August 4, 2017). "Justine Damond death: Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau awarded". Retrieved August 4, 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  66. ^ "Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau: 'Justine didn't have to die'". twincities.com. July 20, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  67. ^ Smith, Mitch (July 21, 2017). "Minneapolis Police Chief Forced Out After Fatal Shooting of Australian Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  68. ^ "Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigns". startribune.com. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  69. ^ Erin Golden, In Mayor Betsy Hodges' re-election loss, Minneapolis voters were 'looking for something different', Star Tribune (November 11, 2017).
  70. ^ 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.
  71. ^ 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.
  72. ^ "Without Rhyme or Reason". abc.net.au. November 20, 2017. Retrieved November 20, 2017.

External linksEdit