Officials: Australian woman shot after cops heard loud sound
Officials said Justine Damond approached the driver's side window of the squad car immediately after the driver had been startled by the sound
By Amy Forliti
MINNEAPOLIS — An Australian woman who called 911 to report a possible assault was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer after the officers heard a loud sound near their squad car, according to information released Tuesday by Minnesota investigators.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Justine Damond, whose maiden name is Justine Ruszczyk, approached the driver's side window of the squad car immediately after the driver had been startled by the sound. The officer in the passenger seat, Mohamed Noor, fired his weapon, hitting Damond through the open driver's side window, the BCA said.
The BCA said its agents interviewed the officer who was driving the car, Officer Matthew Harrity, on Tuesday but Noor declined to be interviewed. The BCA said his attorney did not indicate when, or if, Noor would be interviewed.
Messages left with Noor's attorney were not immediately returned Tuesday.
Harrity and Noor are on paid administrative leave. Harrity has been with Minneapolis police for one year, and Noor has been with the department for nearly two.
Records from the city's Office of Police Conduct Review show Noor has had three complaints against him. Two are pending, and the third was dismissed without discipline. Under state law, details of open cases and cases that result in no discipline are not released.
Noor was also sued earlier this year after a May 25 incident in which he and other officers took a woman to the hospital for an apparent mental health crisis. The lawsuit claims Noor and other officers violated the woman's rights when they entered her home without permission and Noor grabbed her wrist and upper arm. The lawsuit, which is pending, said Noor relaxed his grip when the woman said she had a previous shoulder injury.
The information released Tuesday is the first narrative released by the BCA since Saturday night's shooting. According to the preliminary investigation, Harrity and Noor responded to a 911 call from Damond about a possible assault near her home at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
Harrity was driving the squad car as the officers rode through an alley in search of a suspect with the squad lights off.
Harrity said he became startled by a loud sound near the cruiser, and immediately afterward, Damond approached the driver's side window. Harrity told BCA agents that Noor fired.
No weapon was found at the scene. The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and authorities have said squad video did not capture the shooting.
Harrity told investigators the officers got out of the squad and gave Damond immediate medical attention.
Harrity said that he and Noor saw a man, estimated to be between 18 and 25, bicycling in the area before the shooting. That man stopped and watched as officers attended to Damond. BCA agents are asking that man, and any other potential witnesses, to come forward.