Justine Damond died Saturday night as Minneapolis P.D. Officer Mohamed Noor shot her from the passenger’s seat of his patrol car. There is no indication that has surfaced that any justification has been given for the shooting of Ms. Damond, a 40 year old mother of three and Veterinary surgeon.
An investigation is ongoing conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau issued this statement:
“I also want to assure you that I understand why so many people have so many questions at this point. I have many of the same questions and it is why we immediately asked for an external and independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting death. I’ve asked for the investigation to be expedited to provide transparency and to answer as many questions as quickly as we can.”
What little details exist indicate that Noor, 31 and fellow officer Matthew Harrity 25, received a dispatch call regarding a reported disturbance Saturday night in Fulton on Minneapolis’ suburban South Side. They approached the location with their squad vehicle lights in stealth mode. Harrity has said he heard a loud noise, possibly the sound of a gun shot as they reached an intersection.
The story goes that Ms. Damond, approached the vehicle to inquire of Officer Harrity, who was driving. The next thing that happened, at this point, without explanation, is that Noor, in the passenger seat fired across Officer Harrity and through Harrity’s window at Ms. Damond, striking her in the abdomen. Damond died 20 minutes later, despite attempts at the scene at CPR.
There are questions being raised aside from the fact that Ms. Damond was fatally shot. Observers are asking why an officer would fire at a woman he could only see through the window of the actual driver of the car, when the fellow officer driving did not recognize a mortal threat.
Another question is why were the body cameras of both officers not in active mode when responding to a disturbance call? Not doing so is a violation of state police procedures in place since 2016.
Justine Damond’s family here in America and her family in her native Australia have many questions and are looking for answers. Her father, John Ruszczyk told reporters outside his family home in Freshwater on Sydney’s northern beaches, “We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death.”
Ms. Damond’s stepson Zach, when asked by Fox 9 Minneapolis what he would ask Officer Noor, responded, “Why? Why would you do this? He has no idea the impact that he has on thousands of people. No idea. But I hope that he wakes up every single day and thinks about it. And then I hope that he thinks about how he can be a better person because that’s what she did every single day. And if you don’t do that, you’re not even living either.”
Noor’s background as an officer is being reviewed by critics of the Minneapolis P.D. Noor has had three complaints made against him in two years — including the 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’.
Interestingly News.com.au reports, Noor’s attorney isn’t waiting until Ms. Damond’s memorial service to begin influencing public opinion with a campaign of innuendo and defamation, saying Damond was believed to be suffering a mental health crisis.
On the other side of this matter is the silence on the part of those who are usually quite animated about a black individual being killed by a white police officer. The irony is not lost even on a community organizer, with a coincidentally similar name to Officer Noor – Mohamud Noor, executive director at the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota.
He and others in the Somali community have protested other police shootings in the region along with Black Lives Matter, but this one “changes the narrative,” he said. Usually, they are protesting the death of black men at the hands of police, he said. Now it is a white woman reportedly shot by a black officer.
Another Somali M.P.D. Officer, opting to speak anonymously (even though there are only 9 total on the force), expressed regrets about Ms. Damond’s death, but appears to be more concerned with the safety and security of fellow Somalis. “This is scaring our families. It’s difficult to deal with some media groups going to other Somali officers’ houses who are not involved in this shooting. It makes it hard to do this job when you’re worried about your family.”
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has issued a statement. “As mayor of our city, a wife, and a grandmother, I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by what occurred last night,” Mayor Hodges said at a press conference yesterday. ‘There are still many questions about what took place, and while the investigation is still in its early stages, I am asking the BCA to release as much information, as quickly as they are able to.”
Many who concluded that the investigation and subsequent trial that led to the exoneration of the officer who gunned down Philando Castile was a sham, are skeptical about justice being served in Justine Damond’s death. Nekima Levy-Pounds, a local civil rights attorney and police reform activist stated regarding Damond’s death:
“We stand with the people of Australia in demanding justice for Justine Damond. Her death could have been prevented. Were it not for the increasing militarisation of US police forces, she would still be alive today.”