Justine Damond, the Sidney Native shot dead by a Minneapolis police officer in an alley behind her home, died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said Monday night. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Damond, 40, was shot late Saturday after calling 911 to report a possible sexual assault in progress nearby. Her fiancé, Don Damond, said police have provided them little information regarding what happened after police arrived. But it has been confirmed that she was unarmed when the incident happened.
The officer responsible for pulling the trigger from the passenger seat of the police vehicle was identified as Mohamed Noor who has been on the force since 2015. He and his partner —officer Matthew Harrity, 25, who earned his peace officer’s license last year —are now on paid administrative leave while the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates the case.
Noor, the first Somali-American officer in his precinct, has refused to be interviewed by investigators, as is his legal right but he has already retained a lawyer, Attorney Thomas Plunkett, who said in a statement that his client “takes these events very seriously.”
Harrity’s counsel, Fred Bruno, said on Wednesday: “It is reasonable to assume an officer in that situation would be concerned about a possible ambush. It was only a few weeks ago when a female NYPD cop and mother of twins was executed in her car in a very similar scenario.”
He was referring to the July 5 shooting of a 48-year-old police officer while she was sitting in her patrol car in the Bronx borough of New York City.
According to BBC, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has appealed to the US for an explanation on behalf of her family, calling it “a shocking killing.” In response, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he has been in touch with the Australian embassy, adding the state may need to review rules covering police use of body cameras.
The equipment had not been turned on at the time of Justine Damond’s shooting and the squad car dashboard camera also failed to capture the incident.
Her death is the latest high-profile police shooting in the Twin Cities area in recent years.
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