BCA: Minneapolis officer 'startled' prior to shooting Justine Damond
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A Minneapolis police officer fatally shot an Australian woman while sitting in the passenger seat of a squad car after a loud noise startled an officer, according to the latest update from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Officer Matthew Harrity and Officer Mohamed Noor, both of the Minneapolis Police Department were responding to a call of an assault on Saturday night near West 51st Street and Washburn Avenue.
BCA agents interviewed Harrity on Tuesday. Noor declined to be interviewed, which is his right. His attorney did not elaborate when an interview would happen.
According to the preliminary investigation, Harrity and Noor were in the squad car. Harrity was in the driver's seat and Noor was in the front passenger seat. The officers drove south on the alley between Washburn and Xerxes, heading toward West 51st Street. The lights on the squad car were not on.
When they got to the end of the alley, Harrity was startled by a loud noise near the car. Right after, Justine Damond went to the driver's side window of the squad. Harrity told BCA agents that's when Noor fired his gun, shooting her through the open driver's side window.
The officers immediately gave her medical aid, but Damond succumbed to her injuries and died at the scene.
BCA agents are also looking for a young, white man who was riding his bike on West 51st just before the shooting happened. Harrity told investigators the man stopped riding and saw the officers tending to Damond after she was shot. The man is described as a white 18 to 25-year-old man. Anyone who saw the shooting happen is urged to call the BCA at (651)793-7000.
Investigators found a cell phone near Damond. No weapons were found at the scene.
The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting and the squad camera was not on.
The case is still under investigation by the BCA. When the findings of the investigation are complete, the agency will present its findings to the county attorney.
Mayor Hodges: 'I wish [Noor] would make a statement'
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis Assistant Police Chief Mederia Arradondo, and Council Member Linea Palmisano held a press conference at City Hall in regards to the BCA's update.
Hodges shared her frustration for wanting to know more answers, saying she wished Officer Noor would talk to BCA agents.
"We cannot compel Officer Noor to make a statement … I wish that he would make that statement," said Hodges. "I wish that he would because he has a story to tell that no one else can tell."
Chief Janee Harteau is currently out on "previously scheduled personal time," but has been in contact with police leaders. Arradondo says the department is reviewing its body camera policy and will be releasing an updated policy regarding officer requirements.
Arrandondo also says the Civil Rights Department told him the Office of Police Conduct Review's Civilian Oversight Division has an inquiry on this case, but cannot move forward on the case until the BCA completes its investigation.
The city attorney also said the 911 call is currently being transcribed and will soon be made available to the media.
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