The fatal police shooting of an Australian native in Minneapolis soon after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault should not have happened, the city’s police chief Janee Harteau said Thursday.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, was killed Saturday night, Harteau distanced the police department from the actions of officer Mohamed Noor who fired the shot. According to her, the incident violated department training and procedures, and the victim “didn’t have to die.”
“Based on the publicly released information from the BCA [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension], this should not have happened,” Harteau said. “On our squad cars, you will find the words: ‘To protect with courage and serve with compassion.’ This did not happen. Having the information that is publicly available right now recognizing there’s an open BCA investigation.”
She went on to say that Noor’s shooting of Damond who was in her pajamas when she approached the squad car go against who they are as a department, how they train and the expectations they have for their officers.
Harteau explained she couldn’t address the fatal shooting in person earlier because she was on leave, backpacking in the mountains and had tried to return sooner.
Justine Damond Shooting
Noor and partner Matthew Harrity were in the squad car when the incident happened. The former fired from the passenger’s seat, through the driver’s side window, hitting Damond in the abdomen. The Australian was pronounced dead at the scene, and no weapons were recovered.
State investigators said neither body cameras on the two officers nor the patrol car’s dash camera were activated for the shooting but Harteau believes the officers’ body cameras should have been switched on.
In a blog post, Mayor Betsy Hodges also criticized the lack of camera footage from the scene, even though the investigation had not been completed yet.
“We have put too much time, money, and effort into them to have them fail us when we needed them most,” she wrote on Thursday. “That cannot happen again.”
Noor, the first Somali-American in his precinct, has been with the department for two years. He has refused to speak to investigators, which Harteau said was his “constitutional right.” He and his partner have been placed on standard administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.