Thursday 19 April 2018

US police officer faces charges over fatal shooting of Australian woman

Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.

The memorial service for Justine Ruszczyk Damond in Minneapolis (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)
The memorial service for Justine Ruszczyk Damond in Minneapolis (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

By Amy Forliti, Associated Press

A police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman in Minneapolis has turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest, his lawyer said.

A jail roster said officer Mohamed Noor was held on third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old life coach, on July 15 minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.

Ms Damond’s death drew international attention, cost the police chief her job and forced major revisions to the department’s policy on body cameras.

Noor has not spoken publicly about the case.

His lawyer Thomas Plunkett confirmed Noor turned himself in but had no other immediate comment.

ipanews_69de507f-9975-4ea9-8dca-8c2ae09a4e3d_embedded468762
Police officer Mohamed Noor (City of Minneapolis via AP)

A policeman who was with Noor at the time of the shooting, Matthew Harrity, told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise just before Ms Damond approached the driver’s side window of their police SUV.

Mr Harrity, who was driving, said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat.

Ms Damond died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and there was no squad camera video of the incident.

The lack of video was widely criticised, and Ms Damond’s family members were among the many people who called for changes in procedure, including how often officers are required to turn on their cameras.

The shooting also prompted questions about the training of Noor, a two-year veteran and Somali-American whose arrival on the force had been celebrated by city leaders and Minnesota’s large Somali community.

Noor, 32, had trained in business and economics and worked in property management before becoming an officer.

Then-chief Janee Harteau defended Noor’s training and said he was suited to be on the street, even as she criticised the shooting itself.

But Ms Harteau – who was on holiday when the shooting happened and did not make her first public appearance until several days after the shooting – was forced out soon after by mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she had lost confidence in the chief.

Ms Harteau’s replacement, Medaria Arradondo, quickly announced a policy change requiring officers to turn on their body cameras in responding to any call or traffic stop.

Ms Damond’s family said in a written statement that they were pleased that Hennepin County lawyer Mike Freeman decided to bring charges.

They said they hope a strong case will be presented and Noor will be convicted.

Their statement said justice “demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing the fellow citizens they are sworn to protect”.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News