The police officer who fatally shot Australian national Justine Damond in Minneapolis last summer has been charged with murder and manslaughter following an investigation that was reportedly delayed by police officers’ refusal to cooperate. Damond, who had called 911 to report a sexual assault that she believed was happening nearby her home, was shot by Mohamed Noor after she approached the police car window of his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity. According to Harrity, he and Noor had been startled by a loud noise prior to Damond’s appearance.
Widespread outrage over the killing, which was the third such high-profile police shooting case in Minneapolis in three years, swiftly erupted from residents and outsiders alike. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges described Damond’s death as avoidable, questioned why there was no body-camera footage of the incident even though both officers were wearing cameras, and ousted Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau in wake of the incident. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also criticized the killing as “shocking,’ questioning how “a woman out in the street in her pajamas seeking assistance from police [could] be shot like that.”
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has charged Noor with third-degree murder for “perpetrating an eminently dangerous act and evincing a depraved mind” and second-degree manslaughter for “culpable negligence,” but said he had to convene a grand jury after finding Noor’s fellow officers unwilling to cooperate with the investigation. Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Officer’s Federation, has said that Freeman is “either lying or a perpetuating a lie” by suggesting that the union conspired to keep silent on the case. An attorney for Noor has said that he “should not have been charged with any crime” and that the he “acted as he had been trained and consistent with established departmental policy.”
In November 2015, Minneapolis police were also scrutinized over the shooting of Jamar Clark, which led to no criminal charges after Freeman declared that the shooting was justified. In 2016, the shooting of Philando Castile led to widespread protests and a manslaughter charge against officer Jeronimo Yanez, who was acquitted during a trial last summer.
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