Relatives Demand Answers In Fatal Minnesota Police Shooting

Relatives and neighbors of an Australian woman fatally shot by Minneapolis police over the weekend demanded answers Monday about the mysterious shooting in which the meditation teacher was reportedly killed by an officer who fired from the passenger seat of a squad car as she stood outside the driver's door.

Authorities released no details about what led to the shooting of Justine Damond, whose fiance said she had called 911 to report what she believed was a sexual assault in an alley near her home.

Police said officers were responding to a call about a possible assault late Saturday when she was killed. There were no known witnesses other than the two officers in the squad car. A newspaper report said Damond was shot while standing alongside the car in her pajamas.

The Hennepin County medical examiner's office on Monday said the woman died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Her death was ruled a homicide.

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Damond's family in Australia released a statement Monday through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, saying they "are trying to come to terms with this tragedy and to understand why this has happened."

Authorities did not release the woman's name, but the Star Tribune newspaper identified her as Damond. It reported that she was engaged to be married in August and was using her fiance's last name. Her maiden name was Ruszczyk.

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Almost two days after her death, police offered no public explanation and referred questions to the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which was investigating.

The bureau said Monday that no weapons were found at the scene. More information would be provided once the officers were interviewed, it said in a statement.

Local news media identified the officer who fired the shot as Mohamed Noor. A city newsletter said he joined the Police Department in March 2015.

His attorney, Tom Plunkett, said in a statement that Noor offered his condolences to Damond’s family "and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers."

Plunkett added: "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."

Noor was sued this year after a May 25 incident in which he and other officers took a woman to a hospital on a mental health hold. The lawsuit alleges that the officers violated the woman's rights when they entered her home without her permission and Noor grabbed her wrist and upper arm. Noor relaxed his grip when the woman said she had a previous shoulder injury, the lawsuit says.

Television station KSTP reported that city records show Noor had three complaints on file. The station did not provide details on the nature of the complaints but said that one was dismissed with no disciplinary action and that the two others are pending.

The Star Tribune, citing three people with knowledge of the shooting it did not name, said that the officers pulled into the alley in a squad car and that Damond talked to the driver. The sources said the officer in the passenger seat shot Damond through the driver's side door. A Bureau of Criminal Apprehension spokeswoman did not return messages seeking to confirm that account.

Neighbor Joan Hargrave called the killing "an execution" and said there was no reason for a well-trained officer to see Damond as a threat.

"This is a tragedy, that someone who's asking for help would call the police and get shot by the police," Hargrave said.

Officials said that the officers' body cameras were not turned on and that a squad car camera did not capture the shooting. Investigators were still trying to determine whether other video exists.

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Source : http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-minnesota-shooting-20170717-story.html

Relatives demand answers in fatal Minnesota police shooting
Relatives demand answers in fatal Minnesota police shooting
Relatives demand answers in fatal Minnesota police shooting
Relatives demand answers in fatal Minnesota police shooting of Australian woman
Relatives demand answers in fatal Minnesota police shooting
Relatives Demand Answers in Fatal Minnesota Police Shooting
Relatives demand answers in fatal Minnesota police shooting