Relatives, community, officials demand answers about fatal Minneapolis police shooting

Justine Damond
Meditate Evolve Create
Justine Damond

The Star Tribune’s Andy Mannix writes“While many of the details about what happened Saturday night in the city’s southwest corner have not been disclosed, this much was: She called to report a possible assault in the alley behind her house in one of the city’s safest neighborhoods and was unarmed when officer Mohamed Noor shot her. Amid a public outpouring of grief and outrage, Chief Janeé Harteau issued her first comments on the shooting, saying she too wanted an explanation, and called on the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to perform a speedy investigation. The Hennepin County medical examiner said Monday evening that Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.”

KSTP-TV reports on the officer involved, Mohamed Noor: “The Minneapolis police officer said to be the one who fired the shot that killed 40-year-old Justine Damond Saturday night in southwest Minneapolis had three complaints on file, according to city records. … Noor joined the department in March 2015 and is currently assigned to the 5th Precinct in the southwest part of the city. City records show one complaint against him was dismissed with no disciplinary action being taken. The other two remain open.”

On the incident, the Strib editorial page says, “Even if the officers weren’t required to have their cameras on while responding to Damond’s initial call, department policy clearly requires activation for ‘critical incidents,’ which include ‘any action by an officer that causes death or great bodily harm.’ Investigators should seek answers on why, immediately after Damond was shot, neither officer activated a body camera. And is it possible the officers never turned on their squad car’s top lights, even as Damond lay dying in the dark and they awaited medical help?

In Australia, news.co.au reports, “Heartbroken husband-to-be Don Damond, 50, of killed Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk Damond has made an emotional statement about the loss of his fiancee, saying his family is ‘utterly devastated.’ Mr Damond made the statement outside his Minneapolis home where his fiancee, 40, was gunned down by a local police officer on Saturday night after calling 911 for help. Mr Damond’s first public comments come as the officer who shot Ms Damond has also broken his silence, and audio captured by Minneapolis emergency dispatch files reveal how quickly the shooting happened. Mr. Damond was damning of police officers, saying the family have been provided with ‘almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived.’” 

Jessica McBride at heavy.com gives the unvarnished reaction of stepson Zach Damond to the killing: “‘My mom is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know, and I demand answers,’ Zach Damond said. ‘If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I’m so done with all this violence. It’s so much bull***t. America sucks.’ He added, ‘These cops need to get trained differently. I need to move out of here. I just know she heard a sound in the alley, so then she called the police, and the cops showed up and she was a very passionate woman, and she probably, she thought something bad was happening. Next thing I know, they take my best friend’s life. So, I’m just done. F***k the police. Some of you are good, but like I’m just done. I’m so done. This has to stop. This has to stop. That was my mom.’”

Speaking of law enforcement, Brian Bakst at MPR reports on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s visit to town. “United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday urged a gathering of district attorneys from across the country to work with President Trump’s administration to get tougher on illegal immigration, drugs, gun crimes and gangs. ‘We have a multi-front battle in front of us right now, an increase in violent crime, a rise in vicious gangs, an opioid epidemic, threats from terrorism, and human traffickers, combined with a culture in which family and discipline seems to be eroding further,’ said Sessions, who was in Minneapolis for a speech to the National District Attorneys Association. He said the rise in violent crime is connected to gang activity.”

It’s the great escape of fine fur. Says Barry Amundson for the Forum News Service, “Anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 mink are on the loose in Stearns County in central Minnesota after burglars entered a mink farm, cut a fence and opened cages to let them free. The incident happened sometime between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 5:30 a.m. Monday on Lang Farms LLC about 2.5 miles northwest of Eden Valley. That’s about 30 miles southwest of St. Cloud.”

On second thought, don’t call Elon Musk. Dee-Ann Durbin of the AP writes, “A Tesla driver says his car’s partially self-driving Autopilot system wasn’t responsible for a crash in Minnesota, despite what he initially told investigators. In its police report obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office said David Clark, 58, blamed Autopilot for a crash Saturday evening in Hawick, Minnesota. Clark initially told deputies that when he engaged the Autopilot feature, the car suddenly accelerated, left the roadway and overturned in a marsh. Clark and his passengers sustained minor injuries. But in an email sent Monday afternoon to the sheriff’s office, Clark said he was confused in the moments after the crash. After discussing the crash with his fellow passengers, he now believes that he disengaged Autopilot by stepping on the accelerator before the crash.” 

It’s been a relatively quiet summer across the river, but the Florida of the Midwest has delivered. The AP story says, “Police say an Appleton [Wisconsin] resident arrived home this past weekend to find a naked burglar sleeping in the victim’s bed. Responding officers say they found the man hiding in a shower enclosure at the home Saturday night. Police say the burglar broke a door to gain entry, drank some whiskey and ate some muffins. Authorities say a bag of marijuana was found near the suspect’s clothing.”

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Jeffrey Swainhart on 07/18/2017 - 08:06 am.

    Two cops…

    … with a combined experience of 3 years on the force. Somehow I’d think they’d pair up an experienced officer with a rookie, but what do I know?

  2. Submitted by Tim Walker on 07/18/2017 - 09:10 am.

    Both cops …

    … should have been separated ASAP after the killing, so they couldn’t coordinate the stories they would tell investigators.

    Then, an independent investigator (i.e., not any one connected to MPD — or any other PD) should have interviewed them separately.

    When this doesn’t happen, trust is further eroded … and as the son of the dead woman so eloquently said, “I’m so done. This has to stop. This has to stop.”

  3. Submitted by Pat Terry on 07/18/2017 - 10:27 am.

    Explanation

    I realize that shooting an unarmed woman in her pajamas who called the police and was talking to them is going to be difficult to explain, but shouldn’t we have some kind of an explanation by now? Did this cop have a reason for shooting her, however bogus it might be?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/21/2017 - 09:13 am.

      It’s always the same explanation….

      He was afraid. Our cops are trained and authorized to use lethal force if their “afraid” for their lives. Then we send them into dangerous or potentially dangerous situations where they become afraid for their lives, and they shoot people. It’s kind of a: “duh” actually.

      The rationale for shooting is always the same. What we need to look at is the training and police culture that lead soooooo many cops into a place where they’re so frightened that they keep shooting innocent people who are no real threat.

      Apparently THIS cop thought they were being ambushed. Ambushed? I might be mistaken but I think the last time a cop was shot and killed in an ambush in MN was back in the early 70s in St. Paul. Why is this guy even thinking about ambushes? That’s about training and culture. That’s about cultivating fear rather than dealing with it professionally.

  4. Submitted by Howard Salute on 07/18/2017 - 10:40 am.

    Call 911…then stay in your house.

    I, like everyone else in the world, feel very bad that this senseless tragedy occurred. I’m hopeful this will lead to better training for police officers and clarification on body cams rules. We all need a highly trained police force.

    This is not to justify the police actions in this case, but people please, on a dark night if you call 911, stay in your home and let the police do their work. The police cannot predict the danger they will encounter. Many times it is SOP for the police to have their guns drawn and ready while they investigate/secure an area. Even at their best, police are still human beings.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 07/18/2017 - 12:49 pm.

      Don’t you dare blame the victim!

      We live in a free society, if you can be shot for walking up to a police car after you’ve called them, be it in the dark, in the light of day then we are not free, we are prisoners trapped in our own homes. Not by criminals but by those swarn to protect us. It is not SOP for police to walk around with their guns drawn, maybe that’s what you and they see on your TeeVee but that’s not reality. And they are not walking into danger every second of every day. Its that mentality that’s gotten us here. The reality is Policing is not even in the top ten most dangerous jobs, it falls at fifteen, behind taxi drivers, sanitation workers, grounds keepers, farmers/ranchers, Construction Laborers. Sure any job that deals with the public can be sucky, but we need to get a grip. Cops might face a dangerous situation on occasion, but so do a ton of other people and none of them NONE end up killing an innocent person because they felt threatened. When I was a kid growing up the farmer across the street was attacked by his Bull. You can bet he felt threatened, but he didn’t shoot the bull.

  5. Submitted by Susan Herridge on 07/18/2017 - 01:07 pm.

    I suspect the answer to Damond’s killing is related to this.

    Excerpts from a Harvard Law Review Forum essay entitled “Law Enforcement’s Warrior Problem”, April 10, 2015 by Seth Stoughton. Worth a read – link below

    ” ‘Remain humble and compassionate; be professional and courteous — and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.’ That plan is necessary, officers are told, because everyone they meet may have a plan to kill them.”

    “Under this warrior worldview, officers are locked in intermittent and unpredictable combat with unknown but highly lethal enemies. As a result, officers learn to be afraid. That isn’t the word used in law enforcement circles, of course. Vigilant, attentive, cautious, alert, or observant are the terms that appear most often in police publications. But make no mistake, officers don’t learn to be vigilant, attentive, cautious, alert, and observant just because it’s fun. They do so because they are afraid. Fear is ubiquitous in law enforcement. ”

    https://harvardlawreview.org/2015/04/law-enforcements-warrior-problem/

  6. Submitted by Sandra Nelson on 07/18/2017 - 02:22 pm.

    Justine Damond Killing

    Police Chief Harteau called it “a tragic death.” Mayor Hodges was “deeply disturbed” and “heartsick.”
    I think they are tone deaf.

    Police violence against innocent citizens is becoming all too common. The Mayor and Police Chief should be mad as hell and say so publicly. The Minneapolis Police Department is out of control; it lacks effective leadership and management. Hodges has exhibited no leadership on this issue, and she and Harteau can barely disguise their contempt for each other. Meanwhile, members of the City Council are focused on trying to persuade Jamie Dimon to sever JPMorgan’s relationship with the Trump administration.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  7. Submitted by Abe Froman on 07/18/2017 - 03:23 pm.

    Out of Control

    This was unfortunate, but hopefully now that it’s a white unarmed person killed by the Police, there will be more scrutiny towards Police shooting. I wonder if the comments were the same when Philando Castile was killed. Unfortunately, now her family feels what many black families feel in this situation. It really can happen to anyone…

  8. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/18/2017 - 08:40 pm.

    Training–

    I’ve been out of town, and don’t claim to know the details of this outrageous incident. Apparently, no one save the people involved know those details, and they’re not telling anyone yet. A couple of things occur to me — relevant to this case, relevant to Philando Castile, relevant to Michael Brown in Ferguson, relevant to many people who’ve been shot (and many killed) by police.

    First, the most basic lesson that many seem to either misunderstand or simply don’t know, is that front-line police work cannot be made risk-free. It’s a risky job, and people who volunteer to do it (police desk work is an entirely different animal, and is largely the same as being a clerk in any office) ought to be carefully trained, at length, to deal with those risks, the stresses induced by that risk, and to find out how they personally respond to that kind of stress. If this sort of training is being done, it’s being done very badly, because it’s not evident in far too many “incidents” involving police and the citizens they’re supposed to be protecting.

    Second, and this is just a thought from an old guy who has never been, and doesn’t want to be, a police officer: while drawing one’s service weapon might be justified in some circumstances, even if the civilian being dealt with is unarmed and (to an objective observer) harmless, firing that service weapon, and specifically, firing that service weapon with the intent to hit one or more persons, ought to be the LAST RESORT of every armed police officer. It should never be, as it appears to be in far too many cases, the first action taken, or the second, but far, far removed from being the last resort.

    No one (pun intended) is putting a gun to a man or woman’s head and forcing them into police service. They are all volunteers. They’re volunteering to take risks, and those risks include personal injury. The risks come with the job, and cannot be eliminated unless they decide to choose some other line of work. Their training should include not only how to de-intensify and/or lower the stress of “incidents” that take a turn toward the uncomfortable, it should also emphasize how that particular person/officer responds to stress, threats, fear, and other associated emotional facets of confrontations with citizens unknown (or even known) and the officer(s) involved.

    Nothing a pajama-clad woman might say to a police officer justifies her being shot by that officer. The officers involved, having turned off (or failed to activate), squad car video and their personal body cameras, have egregiously violated department policies, and at the very least should lose their jobs – not suspensions, they should be fired. Then I’d like to see the BCA do a proper job, possibly under the aegis of, as Tim Walker suggested above, someone unaffiliated with city government or the Minneapoiis police department.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/21/2017 - 09:30 am.

      Yes, it’s the training and the culture.

      There’s no denying a baseline level of racism and bigotry, but the primary reason that cops are shooting so many innocent people who pose no real threat is the training and the culture.

      We’ve militarized our law enforcement and the training and culture obviously cultivates fear rather than prepare officers for it and teach them how to deal with it professionally. We can’t send people into dangerous and potentially dangerous situations and expect that they won’t experience fear, but we can expect people in certain professions won’t panic when they get scared. Pilot’s, Doctors, nuclear power plant control room operators, firefighters, and police, all get into scary situations, but they can’t panic, they simply cannot panic, you have to manage the fear. I look at these police shootings and the one thing they all have in common is the shooters appear to be panicking. We need to look at why that is and why that’s happening, and we need to change that.

Leave a Reply