Minneapolis cop charged with murder after shooting woman who reported a sexual assault
In June 2017, a 40-year old Australian yoga teacher was fatally shot by a cop in Minneapolis after calling 911 about a possible sexual assault she witnessed in an alleyway behind her home.
Justine Ruszczyk Damond was reportedly approaching the officer’s squad car in her pajamas and was shot in her stomach. Now, Officer Mohamed Noor has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday for the incident, according to DailyMail.
Damond’s family said in a statement that they are pleased with the charges and hope that the case will be properly presented to convict Noor. They asserted that justice “’demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing those they are sworn to protect.”
Don Damond, the victim’s fiance, also released a statement and commented on the length of time in which he’s had to wait for this day.
“While we waited over eight months to come to this point, we are pleased with the way a grand jury and County Attorney Mike Freeman appear to have been diligent and thorough in investigating and ultimately determining that these charges are justified,” he wrote.
Damond was unarmed at the time of the shooting. Noor, a new officer on the force with only two years experience, reportedly told his friends that the woman had startled him.
Noor allegedly said that an unidentified figure ran from the dark and straight towards his vehicle. Unsure whether or not the person was armed, Noor shot at the figure while still sitting in his patrol car through his passenger door’s open window.
Damond’s body was found alongside her cellphone following the tragic incident.
Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity reportedly gave Damond CPR before backup arrived, but she was pronounced dead on the scene.
Versions of the incident both account that it was dark and the officers did not have their lights on as a tactic to gain the jump on any suspect upon their arrival.
The third-degree murder charge includes a 25-year sentence maximum with 12 years minimum, and the second-degree manslaughter charge carries a 10-year maximum in prison with 4 years minimum. Noor’s bail is reportedly set at $500,000.
Following the Controversy
In July, Noor was identified as the officer involved in the shooting. The Somali-American did not have a body camera turned on nor was his squad car camera recording.
Don Damond described the situation that got his fiancé shot: “It was Justine that called 911 on Saturday evening reporting what she believed was an active sexual assault occurring nearby,” he told media outside his home. “Sadly, my family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived. We have lost the dearest of people and we are desperate for information.”
Days later, Janee Harteau, the Minneapolis Police Chief, resigned as criticism of her response to several high profile shootings had reached a fever pitch.
Her resignation followed the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges who had public feuds with the police chief and lost confidence in Harteau’s ability to “transform policing .. and community trust.”
In December, a white supremacist group erected a memorial for Damond to counteract the fact that she had been killed by a Somali-American.
Police spokesman John Elder told Minnesota Public Radio News an officer cleared the memorial when the department learned it was displayed outside its headquarters.
“We cannot allow any memorial and anything like that to be put up at that location,” Elder told the radio station.
The northern California hate group called Identity Evropa took claim for the memorial via its Twitter account. The group helped organize participants in the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.
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