A Minneapolis cop who shot dead an Australian woman in her pajamas after answering her 911 call has been charged with murder.
Officer Mohamed Noor turned himself in Tuesday morning and is held on murder and manslaughter charges for shooting 40-year-old life coach Justine Damond on July 15 while she was engaged to be married.
He shot Damond in the stomach when she approached his squad car in her pajamas minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.
Officer Mohamed Noor (left) turned himself in Tuesday morning and is held on murder and manslaughter charges for shooting 40-year-old life coach Justine Ruszczyk Damond (right) on July 15 while she was engaged to be married
Damond’s family said in a written statement that they’re pleased that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman decided to bring charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
They say they hope a strong case will be presented and Noor will be convicted.
Their statement says justice ‘demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing the fellow citizens they are sworn to protect.’
Noor told friends he was ‘startled’ by his victim Justine Damond seconds before he opened fire.
DailyMail.com spoke to those friends to reveal for the first time his account of what happened that night.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the shooting, said in a statement that he had declined to be interviewed and that his attorney had not said if or when an interview would take place.
However, many of the key parts of Noor’s narrative gel with the version of events released by the BCA, who had interviewed his partner, Matthew Harrity.
Justine was unarmed and had called 911 caller to alert police to what she believed may have been a rape taking place in the alley behind her home.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a friend of Noor told DailyMail.com that the officer had opened fire when an unidentified figure emerged from the dark and ran towards the vehicle.
The officer said he was not sure what the person was carrying and momentarily opened fire through his driver-partner’s open window.
Aftermath: Cops closed down the area around the shooting but lack crucial bodycam evidence because neither Noor or Harrity activated theirs, in breach of regulations
It was confirmed that Justine’s cell phone was found alongside her during the tragedy.
Noor told associates it was dark and the situation was already tense as the caller had been ‘panicking’ when making the 911 call reporting an assault in the alley beyond where Justine lived with her fiancé and his son.
The squad car, driven by his partner Matthew Harrity traveled hastily down the unlit alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues south from West 50th Street toward West 51st Street.
Crucially, the vehicle did not have its lights on and this may have been so as not to give any suspect notice that police had arrived and buy precious time to apprehend the target. That the car was unlit was disclosed by Harrity to the BCA.
Both Noor and the BCA’s version of events agree on the car’s lights being off.
According to Noor’s version when they reached the end of the alley, they came across a waiting, panicking figure.
It was dark, and the figure was moving around and approached their vehicle.
Noor said he did not know whether the figure who rushed towards their vehicle was the 911 caller or even if it was a man or woman.
He his weapon through Harrity’s open driver’s window hitting his victim once in the abdomen.
Both he and Harrity gave CPR to the victim before help and back up arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Johanna Morrow plays the didgeridoo during a memorial service for Damond at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis on August 11
‘Thrown under the bus’: Proud Somali-American Mohamed Noor says his fellow officers are not backing him. A friend tells Daily Mail.com: ‘… in this situation he has realized he is probably alone with his legal team and Somali police colleagues.’
Call for answers: Don Damond, Justine’s fiance, fought back tears as he said earlier this week that the cops have failed to provide any explanation
The friend said: ‘Mohamed believes he acted to protect himself and his colleague, but accepts since that she was not armed.
‘It was over in seconds and it was a very tense moment. He is sorry for the woman and her family.
‘But he would never have opened fire without genuinely feeling in danger.’
The officer, who is now suspended form the Minneapolis P.D., feels he has been ‘thrown under the bus’ by his Minneapolis police colleagues, the friend said.
WHAT HE SAID IN PUBLIC THROUGH HIS ATTORNEY
‘Officer Noor extends his condolences to the family and anyone else who has been touched by this event.
He takes their 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 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.’
‘He is aware that they normally come together at times like this and support each other with slogans like ‘Blue Lives Matter’.
‘But in this situation he has realized he is probably alone with his legal team and Somali police colleagues.
‘He feels like he is being thrown under the bus and his colleagues are accusing him of not showing proper police conduct on Saturday night.
‘His feeling is ‘I am an immigrant, a Muslim and not white… but that is OK as I know the Somalian community and friends will support me.’
Friends say they would soon be starting fund raising to help meet his legal bills among the Somali community.
They said the reason he had not given an interview to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is probing the shooting, was that he had been given legal advice not to.
Some of his friends have been shocked at some of the online abuse he has been receiving, however, with remarks claiming Justine would not have been shot by the Somalian-American officer if she had been ‘wearing a burka or hijab.’
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodge said: ‘We do have more information, though it’s frustrating to have some of the picture but not all of it.
‘We cannot compel officer Noor to make a statement; I wish we could. I wish that he would make a statement.’
Police said Harrity had indicated he heard a loud sound near his car, in the seconds before his partner Noor opened fire.
Investigators are searching for a cyclist who may have important information about the shooting.
He was white, male and aged between 18-25 and may have stopped and seen the aftermath as medical assistance was applied.
THE FATEFUL 911 CALL WHICH LED TO JUSTINE DAMOND’S DEATH
Incident Number: 17-265936 July 15, 2017; 23.27:02
Operator: 911, what’s the address of the emergency?
Caller: Hi, I’m, I can hear someone out the back and I, I’m not sure if she’s having sex or being raped.
Operator: Give me the address.
Caller: XXXX Washburn Avenue South.
Operator: Washburn Avenue South. You said it’s behind (inaudible)?
Caller: And there’s a (inaudible) out the back, yup, yup. And I think she just yelled out ‘help,’ but it’s difficult the sound has been going on for a while, but I think, I don’t think she’s enjoying it. I think it’s, I don’t know.
Operator: Okay, already got a call started and help on the way. Uh, you can’t see anything, you’re just hearing a female screaming then, is that what you’re saying?
Caller: Yeah. It sounds like sex noises, but it’s been going on for a while and I think she tried to say help and it sounds distressed.
Operator: Okay, I’ve already got an officer on the way. What is your name?
Operator: JUSTINE, what’s your last name?
Operator: And a phone number?
Operator: Okay, we’ve already got help on the way. If anything changes before we get there just give us a call right back, but officers should be there soon.
Operator: Okay, not a problem.
[DAMOND CALLS BACK AT 23.35:23]
Operator: 911, what is the address of the emergency?
Caller: Hi, I just reported one, but no one’s here and was wondering if they got the address wrong.
Operator: What’s the address?
Caller: XXXX Washburn Avenue South. It supposed to be Washburn Avenue South.
Operator: Are you JUSTINE?
Caller: Yeah, (inaudible).
Operator: You’re hearing a female screaming?
Caller: Yes, along behind the house.
Operator: Yup, officers are on the way there.
Caller: Thank you.
Operator: You’re welcome, bye.
Also seeking answers: John Ruszczyk, the heartbroken father of Justine Damond, spoke in Sydney, Australia, to ask for the ‘light of justice to shine down’ on his daughter’s death
The ‘twin cities’ of Minneapolis and St Paul have been rocked in recent years by police shootings, putting the community and law enforcement on edge.
Last month a police officer was acquitted after he shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop while Castile’s girlfriend live streamed the horrifying incident.
Violent protests also erupted after two officers fatally shot 24-year-old Jamar Clark in 2015 and were not charged.
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