I would have waited to write about this significant news story and comment on it after more information becomes available – especially the not yet known reason why a police officer shot an unarmed woman in her pajamas. However, CNN has reported it could be “months” before that answer is determined and “several more months” before it is announced. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is the lead investigating agency. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office is monitoring the case, and he would decide himself whether to charge officer Noor with the shooting, rather than a grand jury. Meantime, officer Noor is on paid administrative leave as authorities investigate why he shot and killed 40-year-old Justine Damond, a meditation teacher and bride-to-be. Probably under advice from his own attorney, Mohamed Noor has not publicly said why he shot Justine Damond. If he has told anyone, it has not yet been leaked to the news media. It’s such a simple question. Why did he do it? Why take so long to answer that question? The answer could be more complicated and perhaps more controversial than most people might guess.
No videos, so far. The police car dash cam was not in use – if that claim is true – even though the victim would not have been in view as she was shot, there would have been the audio of the recorded event. The officers had new body cameras, but both officers had them turned off at the time of the shooting – if that claim is true. Were the body cameras on earlier, and then turned off, or were they off before, during, and after? Officers were under instructions to turn on and make use of their new body cameras for certain kinds of anticipated conflicts such as this event. It happened at night in dim light making the shooting more difficult to see anyway. Of course, most people are going to believe the dash camera and body cameras were off, rather than on – that videos do exist and a cover-up is already in progress. Just claim the cameras were off, and therefore no video of the truth, so cops can make up any story they want to justify the shooting – as long as any witnesses did not record the shooting with their own cameras.
Justine Ruszczyk Damond, age 40, was killed in Minneapolis in an alleyway about 11.30 pm local time on Saturday 15 July 2017 after two officers responded to a report of a possible sexual assault, which she had reported witnessing when she called 911. With the focus on her and the cop who shot her, what happened to the people who caused her to call 911 – the reported sexual assault? Gone by the time cops arrived? Still there nearby as possible witnesses?
On Tuesday 18 July 2017, a Minnesota county medical examiner’s office ruled the fatal police shooting a homicide, saying Justine Damond died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Three witnesses have reported she was standing at the driver side door of the patrol car while explaining to the officer driving the patrol car why she called 911, when the officer in the front passenger seat pulled his gun and shot her through the driver side door. A conflicting story is the officer already had his gun drawn upon arrival and fired through the open window of the driver side door. A related report is that the officers could hear a woman screaming in the alley as they arrived. Either way, no doubt the shot came close to hitting the officer in the driver seat, and I can guess he’s not too happy about that – unless he believes the shot somehow saved his life and that of the officer who fired the shot.
The investigation will determine when officer Noor pulled his gun. Hearing a woman screaming in the alley upon arrival could have caused him to do that. Unless the report was of a woman attacking a woman instead of a man attacking a woman, why shoot the apparent victim? Did the 911 operator pass incorrect information on to the officers? The 911 transcript and recording has not yet been released.
Another possible reason why officer Noor might drawn his gun upon arrival is the ongoing fear some police officers have about possibly being called into an ambush – that the report of a sexual assault in the alley could be false – that the woman might be bait as men waited in the darkness with guns to murder the officers. That’s still a possibility even if he did not draw his gun until during the conversation between the woman and his fellow officer, if hearing something he perceived to be a threat or any indication of an ambush. Although standing there in her pajamas, did Justine do something that caused Noor to believe she has a gun or other kind of weapon? Unlikely, but Noor could have misperceived something there in the dim light. From The Washington Post: Investigators said Tuesday that the officers were “startled by a loud sound” near their patrol car right before the shooting. The two officers were driving through an alley near the home of Justine Damond, 40, after she called 911 late Saturday to report a possible assault, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the state agency investigating the shooting. The officer who was driving the patrol car told investigators that right after the loud noise, Damond approached the car on his side. The officer who was in the passenger seat then fatally shot Damond through the driver’s side window, according to investigators.
“The Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman in an alley shortly after she called 911 to report a possible crime is a young Somali-American and father who felt called to work in law enforcement after getting a college degree in business. Mohamed Noor, 32, joined the police force two years ago and is among more Somalis hired in recent years as the department continues its efforts to diversify. To those in Minnesota’s Somali community, the largest in the United States, he was seen as role model, and his hiring was celebrated.” – ABC News.
“Justine Ruszczyk traveled from her native Australia to Minneapolis to live with her fiancé three years ago. They were going to marry next month. She had already embarked on a long, personal journey. Trained as a veterinarian, Ruszczyk changed directions and became a spiritual healer, yoga and meditation instructor and life coach. She wanted to help people discover the power and potential within their own brains and hearts she said on her webpage.” – CNN.
Another possibility, however remote or unlikely, has to do with culture and language differences between Australians and Somalis. Such as use of Australian humor and slang, perhaps comparable to white South African humor and slang Noor might have been more familiar with. While reporting what she saw to the officer driving the patrol car, Justine might have used Australian slang, which Noor misunderstood and became so offended by that he lost his temper, pulled his gun, and shot her.
Odds are against another possibility, and that is if Mohamed Noor already knew Justine Damond before the fatal encounter, giving him cause for concern upon seeing the 911 caller is her. There is nothing so far reported in her background to indicate her to be a possible threat to anyone. No doubt, those investigating the homicide are doing so with the officer’s defense in mind – more so than the defense of the victim, and could be making use of time to drag out the investigation in an attempt to dig up dirt on her – her background – such as if she had a criminal record – and if she had ever made threats to police. It would not count in a court of law if Noor had no advance knowledge of her as a threat to draw his gun in advance and to then shoot her.
As for the officer’s history, there have been three complaints made against Mohammad Noor – one dismissed and two still being investigated – none apparently bad enough to justify taking him off of the job.
Australians are making it a gun issue, like liberal Democrats here in the U.S. have a blame the gun mentality for most shootings. Even so, liberal Democrats are so far surprisingly not yet making this shooting a gun issue. Does this mean it is time to take guns away from cops because they are not acting responsibly with them? In the past, cops were trained to disarm suspects or shoot to wound – to use deadly force only as a last resort. More recent times, cops are trained to shoot first if perceiving their own lives are in danger, rather than to risk death if engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a suspect. Taking guns away from cops would be just as unconstitutional as taking guns away from good citizens who have a legal right to use deadly force in self defense. Criminals will still find ways to obtain guns and other kinds of weapons.
Further, this is a black cop shooting a white female, rather than a white cop shooting a black male. Where are the protesters – hundreds to thousands marching in the streets?
Where’s the nonstop news coverage by CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC on TV? They have barely touched on it while continuing to be obsessed with President Trump.
It’s kind of “Orwellian” to call police for help and then to be shot by one of them. I’m likewise reminded of “Fahrenheit 451” in which firemen are no longer called to put out fires but to burn books.
When I see a cop headed in my direction I feel greater danger than when I see a suspected criminal headed in my direction. Both might want to harm me, but a cop is more likely to get away with killing me than a criminal.
I pray the answer to the question why Mohammad Noor shot and killed Justine Damond will soon become known, that justice will be done, and the truth will bring some peace of mind to relatives of the victim.
More from The Washington Post about a statement made by Noor through his attorney, and remarks made by his Somali community to make him look like the victim in this case. He has not yet admitted to being the shooter and has not yet provided a reason to justify the shooting. Could Islamic law as a Sunni Muslim justify him executing a woman perhaps for being outside at night in her pajamas? Could it be that extreme and simple? Possibly. There is no evidence so far that it was an act of self defense…
- Tom Plunkett, an attorney who said he to represent Noor, said in a statement that the officer “extends his condolences” to those mourning 40-year-old Justine Damond’s death and “takes their loss seriously.”
- “We would like to say more, and will in the future,” Plunkett said. “At this time, however, there are several investigations ongoing and Officer Noor wants to respect the privacy to the family and asks the same in return during this difficult period.”
- Although Plunkett did not respond to requests to explicitly confirm that Noor fired the shot that killed Damond, several Somali leaders in Minneapolis said in interviews with The Washington Post that they were aware of the officer’s involvement.
- “There is no question that he is the officer,” Somali activist Omar Jamal told The Post. “We knew this right after the shooting, but we didn’t want to release the name.”
- Witnesses at the scene Saturday night said that the officer who fired his gun appeared to be Somali, Jamal said, so he and others in the community began contacting all the Somalis in the department. They knew the shooting took place in the fifth precinct, where Noor is the only Somali officer.
- The report stoked fear among Somalis in the Twin Cities, who have worked for decades to become part of the city’s fabric. There are now Somalis on the police force, the city council and in the Minnesota House of Representatives. But the largely Muslim population of Somali Americans in the region still face Islamophobia and innuendo about terrorism.
- “They fear this will be just another event used to create animosity toward the Somali community,” Mohamud Noor, executive director at the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, told The Post.
- Already, hateful posts criticizing Islam and sharia law are filling social media in response to the police shooting. Several far-right blogs featured sensational headlines that blamed the officer’s ethnicity for the deadly use of force.
UPDATE from ABC News…
- Matthew Harrity, who has been with the Minneapolis Police Department for one year, and Mohamed Noor, who has been with the department for 21 months, were the responding officers to the scene after Justine Maia Ruszczyk called 911 to report a possible assault near her home, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced in a press release Tuesday night.
- Harrity was driving the squad car, while Noor was in the passenger seat, according to the DPS. As they neared Ruszczyk’s home, Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the car, after which Ruszczyk immediately approached the driver’s side, Minnesota DPS said.
- Noor then fired his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the driver’s side window, which was open, according to the DPS. The officers provided medical assistance to Ruszczyk until EMS arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
- Harrity was interviewed by investigators Tuesday, but Noor declined to be interviewed, the DPS said. The Minnesota DPS Bureau of Criminal Apprehension cannot compel Noor to testify, and Noor’s attorney did not provide clarification on when, if ever, an interview will take place.
- Both officers have been placed on standard paid administrative leave. Ruszczyk’s death is being ruled a homicide.
- Minnesota Police Chief Janee Harteau was out of the state for personal travel in the aftermath of the shooting but is cutting the trip short due to the incident, a spokesperson for the department told ABC News. She has been in constant contact with her team over the last three days, the spokesperson said.
– Jul 18, 2017, 8:31 PM ET.
UPDATE Thursday morning 19 July 2017: The bottom line now – BCA has implied the answer is as simple as two cops startled by a loud noise resulting in one of them shooting Justine as she approached the patrol car. But did the officers ask her to stop, put her hands up, show her hands, or get down on the ground before shooting? Apparently not. Shoot first and then determine the threat. Justine had the bad luck of her call for help resulting in two cops arriving who were so paranoid as to act in a grossly irresponsibly way. My conclusion, my o[pinion, both officers, or at least Noor, should be charged with Criminally Negligent Manslaughter.
A Special Editorial Article by Jim Lantern in Norman Oklahoma USA
5:30pm CT Tuesday 18 July 2017