Minneapolis Cop Charged With Murder, Manslaughter In Australian’s Death

STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman in July turned himself in Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest, his attorney said. A jail roster said he was held on third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

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

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, planned a Tuesday afternoon news conference to discuss the charges.

Noor has not spoken publicly about the case. His attorney, Thomas Plunkett, confirmed Noor turned himself in, but had no other immediate comment.

A policeman who was with Noor at the time of the shooting, Matthew Harrity, told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached the driver’s side window of their police SUV. Harrity, who was driving, said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat. 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 criticized, and 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 criticized the shooting itself. But Harteau — who was on vacation when the shooting happened and didn’t 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.

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.

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