Additional details have come to light regarding the police shooting of an Australian immigrant living with her fiancé in Minneapolis, as this apparent unjustified homicide is now making national news.
Bride-to-be Justine Damond called 911 around 11:30pm on Saturday, only a month before she was set to be married, when she heard a disturbance behind her Minneapolis home, possibly fearing a home invasion was about to take place.
Two police officers arrived in a single patrol car and Justine Damond came outside, reportedly still in her pajamas, and started talking to the officer in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. For reason yet unknown, Mohamed Noor, who was the officer sitting in the passenger seat of the patrol car, opened fire on Damond, the bullet flying across his partner and through the driver’s side door, hitting Damond in the stomach and subsequently killing her.
Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, who had a bullet pass directly in front of him, was reported to be “stunned” after his colleague opened fire from inside their squad car.
Mohamed Noor joined the police force in 2015 and was hailed as the first Somali-American officer in the precinct. Noor, 31, has in the past been personally praised by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
Despite these praises of Mohamed Noor, the officer has reportedly had three complaints made against him in two years, including a lawsuit. Two are from 2017 and one from 2016 is closed and according to Lou Raguse of Kare 11 is marked ‘not to be made public’.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Damond died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Thomas Plunkett, Noor’s lawyer, said in statement that his client “takes these events very seriously”. Sources claim that Damond was firmly anti-gun and no firearm was found at the scene of the shooting, but her cell phone was recovered close to her body.
While many of the details about what happened Saturday night in the city’s southwest corner have not been disclosed, this much was: She called to report a possible assault in the alley behind her house in one of the city’s safest neighborhoods and was unarmed when officer Mohamed Noor shot her.
Amid a public outpouring of grief and outrage, Chief Janeé Harteau issued her first comments on the shooting, saying she too wanted an explanation, and called on the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to perform a speedy investigation.
The Hennepin County medical examiner said Monday evening that Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Noor, a second-year officer whose identity became public Monday, has retained a lawyer. Attorney Thomas Plunkett said in a statement that Noor “takes these events very seriously.”
“He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves,” Plunkett said. “Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.”
Don Damond, fiance of Justine Damond, is comforted by his son Zach Damond before he made a statement to the press near his home in Minneapolis.
Sources identified Noor’s partner on the scene, who did not fire any shots, as officer Matthew Harrity, 25, who earned his peace officer’s license last year. A spokeswoman for the BCA confirmed there was no weapon found at the scene, creating even more mystery about how Damond’s call to police ended in one of the responding officers fatally shooting her.
A source said Damond’s cellphone was found near her body.
Did Mohamed Noor believe that Damond’s cell phone in her hand was a firearm? Sources report that the alley in which the police encountered Damond was well lit, meaning any trained officer should have been able to tell the difference between a cell phone and a firearm, and the neighborhood they were in was considered a very safe area.
Ms Damond had a well-known stance against guns, and there was no way she would have been armed on Saturday night, her friend Hannah, 21, told the paper.
She also explained Damond (nee Ruszczyk), who had already taken her fiance’s last name often spoke about the benefits of Australia’s tight gun control.
Despite her misgivings, Damond had elected to give up her life in Sydney for one in Minneapolis, where she lived with her fiance Don, who she described as the ‘amazing, handsome hilarious, rockstar love of my life’.
Furthermore, Noor apparently discharged his firearm across his partner’s chest or abdomen area, through the police car’s door and into Damond’s stomach. Even if Mohamed Noor believed that Damond has a firearm in her hand and his partner was in immediate danger, the shot he took was extremely risky and could have easily struck his partner.
They have admitted that no weapons were recovered from the scene and according to the Star Tribune witnesses to the shooting have described Damond approaching the police cruiser in the alley behind her house.
She was holding her cell phone and talking to an officer on the drivers side before she was shot.
The only concrete statement the BCA has made so far is to confirm that ‘At one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman’.
Further complicating the shooting is the fact that neither officer had their body cameras turned on and the dash camera of the patrol was also turned off, which Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges stated was a ‘key question’ for investigators. ‘I don’t know what happened. That’s one of the key questions that we have as the investigations move forward’, Hodges said.
The decision to equip all police with bodycams came after the black motorist Philando Castile was shot by an officer in 2016 in controversial circumstances. However, the cameras can be turned off and on manually by the officers, which is exactly what happened in this case where all cameras that could possibly have been turned on at the time of the shooting were incidentally turned off.
The sequence of events was captured in part by police radio, published by website Minnesota PoliceClips, which records police-related media. The dispatch audio can be heard in the video below:
Officers responded to a report of a “female screaming behind the building.” Moments later, an officer reported “shots fired … one down at Washburn,” and an officer says he was performing CPR. About a minute after the shooting, an officer says there are “no suspects at large.”
As the family and friends of Justine Damond mourns the loss of their loved one, questions burn in the public’s mind as to what motivated this senseless shooting. One immediate question raised by many conservatives following this story is whether or not Mohamed Noor followed a certain belief system in which influenced his actions, possibly related to his feelings towards women.
Another question is, where are the protest groups like Black Lives Matter claiming that this police shooting was a direct result of racism? Where are the feminists groups with accusations of deep seeded misogyny on the part of Mohamed Noor influencing his decision to open fire on an unarmed woman? Will a new protest group, perhaps called “White Women’s Lives Matter”, emerge to take their message to the streets?
In reality, none of those events are likely to occur, no matter what the motive is found to be behind this police shooting. One fact can be determined from what has been reported thus far, however, and that is Mohamed Noor being woefully unqualified to be a police officer. Despite the 3 complaints, including a lawsuit, levied against Noor in his 2 brief years on the force, the fact has been established that he shot and killed an unarmed women in her pajamas, while at the same time risking the life of his partner when firing across his body and through the door of his vehicle to hit Damond in the stomach.
This wouldn’t be the first instance of a Somali immigrant performing an apparent senseless act of violence, as in November of last year a Somali student at Ohio State University tried to run over fellow students, and then attacked them with a knife. Also in 2016, a Somali rampaged through a Minnesota mall and stabbed 10 people before being shot by police, an incident in which ISIS claimed responsibility for.
The fanfare behind Noor’s hiring to the police department, being the first Somali immigrant to hold a badge in that precinct, was apparently unjustified and has now resulted in the senseless loss of life. Obviously there are other officers who have shot unarmed civilians and should never have been allowed on the police force, but perhaps this incident could have been prevented if politics or political correctness wasn’t involved in this hiring decision, as I have no doubt it played a part given the celebrations by local officials at having the first Somali immigrant on the police force.