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Minneapolis officer charged in shooting of Australian woman (with video of press conference)

Mohamed Noor

Man facing charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 1:43 PM
Updated: Mar 20, 2018 5:07 PM


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Australian woman in July was booked into jail Tuesday on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Officer Mohamed Noor turned himself in Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old life coach, on July 15 minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Damond's death drew international attention, cost the police chief her job and forced major revisions to the department's policy on body cameras.

Timeline of unarmed Australian Justine Damond's shooting

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A timeline of the July 15, 2017, fatal shooting of Justine Damond, an unarmed Australian woman, by a Minneapolis police officer, and ensuing events:

11:27 p.m. — Justine Damond calls 911 to report hearing sounds of distress from a girl or woman behind her house. She says it may be a rape. A dispatcher says officers should arrive soon.

11:35 p.m. — Damond calls 911 again to ask why police haven't arrived yet. She gives the dispatcher the address again.

11:41 p.m. — Officers Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor arrive and drive south down the alley behind Damond's house. Harrity, who is driving, is startled by a loud noise near his squad car. Damond approaches the driver's side window immediately afterward, and Noor fires his gun past Harrity, striking Damond through that window of the vehicle, according to Harrity in an interview with state investigators.

11:42 p.m. — Radio report of one person down, starting CPR.

11:50 p.m. — Radio report of police doing CPR for "last four minutes."

11:51 p.m. — Damond is pronounced dead in the alley at the south end of her block. A medical examiner later says Damond was shot once in the abdomen.

July 16 — Hundreds gather in Damond's southwest Minneapolis neighborhood to mourn her death. Mayor Betsy Hodges visits scene, says she is "heartsick" and "deeply disturbed" by shooting. State investigators say the officers involved in the shooting had not turned on their body cameras and squad car video didn't capture the shooting.

July 17 — An autopsy shows Damond died of a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. Her fiancé Don Damond says the family has been given no information about how the shooting happened. The officer who shot Justine Damond is identified as Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American with less than two years of experience who became an officer after working in property management. In a statement from his attorney, Noor offers condolences to Damond's family.

July 18 — State investigators say Noor declined to be interviewed. They say his partner, Matthew Harrity, told them Harrity was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached the officers' SUV, and that Noor — in the passenger seat — shot her through the driver's-side window.

July 20 — Police Chief Janee Harteau makes first remarks on shooting, says it "should not have happened" but defends Noor's training. Harteau also says the city is reviewing its policy on body cameras and wants them to be used more often.

July 21 — Harteau resigns at Hodges' request after the mayor says she no longer has confidence in the chief. Hodges names Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo to take over. At a news conference to discuss the change, Hodges is shouted down by protesters who say she should resign, too.

Aug. 11 — Damond's family holds a public memorial service in Minneapolis.

Aug. 28 — Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says he expects to decide on charges by year's end.

Sept. 12 — Authorities announce that the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation has handed the case over to Freeman's office.

Nov. 18 — Council Member Jacob Frey defeats Hodges in the mayor's race. Much of the campaign focused on police-community relations.

Dec. 13 — Freeman is caught on video saying he doesn't have enough evidence to charge Noor and blaming investigators "who haven't done their job."

Dec. 28 — Freeman says he'll miss his self-imposed deadline of deciding on charges by year's end because he needs more time.

Jan. 24, 2018 — Attorneys say Freeman convened a grand jury and subpoenaed other officers to compel them to tell what they know. Freeman says he still intends to make his own decision on charges.

March 20 — Noor turns himself in to the Hennepin County Jail on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Bail is set at $500,000.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman planned a Tuesday afternoon news conference to discuss the charges. The criminal complaint remained sealed by midday Tuesday, but according to the jail roster Noor was booked on a third-degree murder charge for perpetrating an eminently dangerous act while showing a "depraved mind." The second-degree manslaughter charge alleges he acted with "culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk."

If convicted of third-degree murder, he could face a maximum of 25 years in prison, though the presumptive sentence is 12 ½ years. A judge could issue a sentence ranging from about 10 ½ to 15 years.

The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, but the presumptive sentence is four years.

The jail set bail at $500,000, according to jail records.

Noor has not spoken publicly about the case and declined to answer questions from investigators. His attorney, Thomas Plunkett, confirmed Noor turned himself in, but had no other immediate comment.

Damond's father, John Ruszcyzk, and her fiance, Don Damond, issued a joint statement on behalf of both families, saying they applauded the decision to charge Noor "as one step toward justice for this iniquitous act." They said they are pleased that the investigation appeared diligent and thorough, and they hope for a conviction.

"No charges can bring our Justine back. However, justice demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing the fellow citizens they are sworn to protect, and today's actions reflect that," the statement said.

A policeman who was with Noor at the time of the shooting, Matthew Harrity, told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached the driver's side window of their police SUV. Harrity, who was driving, said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat. Damond died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and there was no squad camera video of the incident.

The lack of video was widely criticized, and Damond's family members were among the many people who called for changes in procedure, including how often officers are required to turn on their cameras.

The shooting also prompted questions about the training of Noor, a two-year veteran and Somali-American whose arrival on the force had been celebrated by city leaders and Minnesota's large Somali community. Noor, 32, had trained in business and economics and worked in property management before becoming an officer.

Then-Chief Janee Harteau defended Noor's training and said he was suited to be on the street, even as she criticized the shooting itself. But Harteau — who was on vacation when the shooting happened and didn't make her first public appearance until several days after the shooting — was forced out soon after by Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she had lost confidence in the chief.

Harteau's replacement, Medaria Arradondo, quickly announced a policy change requiring officers to turn on their body cameras in responding to any call or traffic stop. Recent reports show the department is not yet in full complete compliance.

Damond's shooting was the third high-profile police shooting in Minnesota in recent years in which a prosecutor made a charging decision rather than relying on a grand jury, a process criticized for secrecy and for the rarity of officers being charged. But in this case, Freeman convened a grand jury to investigate, about a month after he publicly stated he didn't have enough evidence. He maintained that the decision to charge would be his.

In December , Freeman was captured on video at a holiday reception complaining that investigators hadn't brought him enough information to warrant charging the officer. Freeman apologized just a few days later, saying he shouldn't have discussed the case in detail in a public setting. About a month later, dozens of officers received subpoenas to testify before the grand jury.

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