A Minneapolis officer is accused of shooting an Australian bride-to-be who called for help. The shooting comes at a time when police around the nation are under fire for escalating random encounters into deadly shootings.
But the complaints against police use of deadly deadly force are usually are lodged by people of color, but on Saturday, the victim, Justine Damond, 40, was a White woman who had studied to be a veterinarian in Sydney before moving to Minneapolis to be with her fiancé, writes The Washington Post.
Further, in the aftermath of the shooting death of Philando Castile, policy requires officers to wear a body camera. But the officers’ body cameras were not turn on before the shooting and the squad car camera did not capture the shooting, the report says.
“We all want to know more; I want to know more,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said at a news conference Sunday afternoon, The Post writes. “I call on the BCA … to share as much information as they can as quickly as they possibly can.”
The incident began before 11:30 p.m. Saturday when Damond called 911 to report a possible assault behind her house. According to a news release from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, two Minneapolis Police Department officers responded to the call and went to an alley near her home in the Fulton neighborhood, on the city’s southwest side, writes The Post.
The Associated Press provides more details:
Local media identified the officer who fired as Mohamed Noor, who is a Somali-American. A city newsletter said he joined the police department in March 2015.
His attorney, Tom Plunkett, released a statement saying Noor offered his condolences to the family “and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers.”
The statement added: “He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves. Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.”
Noor was sued earlier this year after a May 25 incident in which he and other officers took a woman to the hospital on a mental health hold. The lawsuit claims Noor and the other officers violated the woman’s rights when they entered her home without her permission and Noor grabbed her wrist and upper arm. Noor relaxed his grip when the woman said she had a previous shoulder injury, the lawsuit says.
Television station KSTP reported that city records show Noor had three complaints on file. The station did not provide details on the nature of the complaints but said one was dismissed with no disciplinary action and the other two are pending.
The Star Tribune, citing three people with knowledge of the shooting it did not name, said the officers pulled into the alley in a squad car, and Damond talked to the driver. The newspaper’s sources said the officer in the passenger seat shot Damond through the driver’s-side door. A BCA spokeswoman did not return messages seeking to confirm that account.
Neighbor Joan Hargrave called the killing “an execution” and said there was no reason for a well-trained officer to see Damond as a threat.
“This is a tragedy — that someone who’s asking for help would call the police and get shot by the police,” Hargrave said.
Officials said the officers’ body cameras were not turned on and that a squad car camera did not capture the shooting. Investigators were still trying to determine whether other video exists.
It’s not clear why the officers’ body cameras were not turned on. The department has phased in body cameras for all of its officers over the last year. Department policy allows for a range of situations in which officers are supposed to turn cameras on, including “any contact involving criminal activity” and before use of force. If a body camera is not turned on before use of force, it’s supposed to be turned on as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Once the investigation is complete, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman would decide whether to charge the officer. Freeman would not comment on the broader case Monday, but said both officers likely should have turned on their body cameras as they were approached by Damond in an alley.
Police Chief Janee Harteau called the killing a “tragic death” and said she understands why the community has questions. “I’ve asked for the investigation to be expedited to provide transparency and to answer as many questions as quickly as we can,” she said.
The Fulton neighborhood where the shooting happened is a mix of middle- and upper-middle-class homes about a half-mile from city lakes that are a popular destination for residents and tourists.
Some Twitter users suggested that the shooting would prompt Whites to support police reforms:
The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, the report says.
PHOTOS: Minneapolis police, Facebook
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