A bride-to-be shot dead by police after calling 911 to report a rape. She died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.
‘Officer Noor extends his condolences to the family…’ Really?!? How touching…
“We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death,” an emotional John Ruszczyk said outside his family home in Freshwater on Sydney’s northern beaches this afternoon.
According to the Star Tribune, officer Mohamed Noor violated his department’s rules on the use of bodycams.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s Policy and Procedure manual says that any use of force requires the camera’s activation. If things change quickly and the officer is too busy, he or she should activate the camera “as soon as it is safe to do so”.
The cameras record a 30-second video buffer, a so-called “lookback” that allows officers to capture whatever happened in the half-minute before it’s activated.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the actions of Noor, who shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, on Saturday night.
So who is Officer Noor?
The officer aimed at the Australian from the passenger seat of his squad car while she spoke to his colleague on the driver’s side in a back alley.
On Monday, her fiance Don Damond said the family were ‘desperate for information’ about her shooting – in which he referred to as a homicide.
Her heartbroken parents spoke for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, describing their shock at their daughter’s death and calling on ‘the light of justice to shine down’.
‘We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare but we awoke to the ugly truth and it hurt even more,’ a shattered John Ruszczyk said, flanked by his wife.
‘Justine, our daughter, was so special to us and so many others. We went down to Freshy (Freshwater) beach this morning and saw the blackness turn to light.
‘Justine was a beacon to all of us, we only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death.’
The 40-year-old was gunned down by Noor, 31, the first Somali-American officer in his precinct.
A Somali gunman, Mohamed Noor allegedly shot Aussie Justine Damond dead. This time though, the gunman was wearing a Minneapolis PD uniform pic.twitter.com/vqFCGSgPms
— Limuel Martine (@LIMUELMARTINE) July 17, 2017
In a statement released by his attorney, the officer said he takes the family’s loss ‘seriously and ‘keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers’.
‘He came to the United States at a young age and is thankful to have had so many opportunities. He takes these events very seriously because, for him, being a police officer is a calling. 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,’ the statement read.
‘The current environment for police is difficult, but Officer Noor accepts this as part of his calling. We would like to say more, and will in the future.’
‘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.’
Mr Damond, who addressed the assembled media from his backyard in Minneapolis, said ‘piecing together Justine’s last moments before the homicide will be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy.’
‘Our hearts are broken and we are utterly devastated by the loss of Justine,’ he added, as he was comforted by his son Zach during the press conference.
Don’s voice broke, and the grieving fiance appeared on the edge of tears, as he described the little he did know about what took place the night Justine died.
‘It was Justine that called 911 on Saturday evening reporting what she believed was an active sexual assault occurring nearby.
‘Sadly, my family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived.
‘We have lost the dearest of people and we are desperate for information.’
Don described Justine as ‘kind and so darn funny’.
‘She touched so many people. She was a teacher to so many, in living a life of openness, kindness and love,’ he said. ‘She made us all laugh with her great wit and her humor.’
‘Our lives are forever changed as a result of knowing her.
‘It’s difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life.’
Don, who promised to provide further statements as more information came to light, also thanked friends, family and strangers for ‘the amazing outpouring of love and support that we received’ after the loss of Justine.
‘The death of Justine is a loss to everyone who knew her.’
Both officer’s bodycams were off and the squad car camera not recording when Damond was killed just a month before she was due to marry.
The shooting occurred near the intersection of 51st Street and Washburn Avenue South, in the city’s Fulton neighborhood.
The driver of the squad car that pulled up in the alley behind the home Damond shared with her fiance has been identified as Matthew Harrity, a community service officer since 2016.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) – the state agency investigating the shooting – has so far kept tight-lipped on how the circumstances that led to the death of the yoga and meditation teacher.
They have admitted that no weapons were recovered from the scene and according to the Star Tribune witnesses to the shooting have described Damond approaching the police cruiser in the alley behind her house.
She was holding her cell phone and talking to an officer on the drivers side before she was shot.
The only concrete statement the BCA has made so far is to confirm that ‘at one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman’.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told the Star Tribune on Monday the police officers’ body cameras should have been operating when they responded to Ms Damond’s call.
‘I do understand this, they were driving down an alley, the victim approached the car. That’s not necessarily a time you must [be taping], but frankly I think it’s a time you should,’ he said.
The county attorney said he would decide whether or not to charge Noor with the shooting.
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