Justine Damond autopsy: A report determines an Australian woman’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police was murder. Was her phone confused for a weapon?
The shooting death of 40 year old Australian woman, Justine Ruszczyk (also known by her fiance’s surname, Justine Damond) at the hands of Minneapolis Police officer, Mohamed Noor after calling 911 in response to a possible sexual assault near the family residence has been determined to be caused by a single bullet to the abdomen.
A report via the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office late Monday described the, ‘manner of death as homicide.’
The ruling comes as Officer Mohamed Noor broke his silence, where through the man’s attorney, Tom Plunkett expressed his condolences to the slain woman’s family and friends, along with taking the events, ‘very seriously’.
‘He takes these events very seriously because, for him, being a police officer is a calling,’ continued the statement. ‘He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves.’
The statement comes after Noor’s lawyer conceded there were ‘several investigations ongoing’ around Noor, as previous complaints against the officer, including an open case filed to the US District Court just last month, regarding an alleged heavy handed response to a previous 911 dispatch call.
— Paul Blume (@PaulBlume_FOX9) July 18, 2017
— Kent Erdahl (@kenterdahl) July 17, 2017
That case involved a former social worker claiming Noor and other officers violated her constitutional rights in March after mandating her detention at a hospital after she called 911 to report a drug crime and other issues.
Of disconcert, The Star Tribune reported the woman claimed that Noor ‘grabbed her right wrist and upper arm’ when moving her, leaving her ‘immobilized’.
Noor’s first public comments followed a Monday afternoon statement from Justine’s fiance, Don Damond, who took the Minneapolis Police Department to task for the way it handled the shooting death while also calling Justine’s death, ‘murder’.
What should have been a routine 911 call to police and the woman describing in person to officers what she believed to have transpired turned out to be anything but ‘routine’ in a climate of angst and inertia prevailing within the US- especially in light of increased instances of police brutality, the increasing curtailing of public freedoms and the increasingly militant attitude of authorities.
The 50 year old executive 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;.
‘We’ve lost the dearest of people and we’re desperate for information,’ he said.
‘Piecing together Justine’s last moments before the homicide would be a small comforts as we grieve this tragedy.’
The couple had been set to be married next month.
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) July 18, 2017
While family and friends continue to wonder what instigated the shooting of the woman who’d come out to greet responding police officers in her pajamas, circa Saturday night, clues were starting to make their way.
Scratchy audio of a police radio conversation uploaded to a Minnesota website that monitors the state’s police scanners and posts online, offered some insight into the police operation that followed.
The call begins just before 11.28pm on Saturday night, when the bride-to-be is believed to have called 911. A dispatcher can be heard directing officers to a ‘female screaming behind the building’.
Only about 30 seconds later, an officer reports from the scene: ‘shots fired’.
The officers at the scene call for other units to make their way to the address, saying: ‘Code 3, Washburn and 53rd St.’
It then becomes clear that a person has been shot.
‘One down,’ an officer can be heard to say. After about a minute, an officer reports: ‘No suspects at large.’
A mobile phone reportedly found near Ms Damond’s body raised the prospect police thought it was a gun. No weapons were found at the scene. The shooting happened at night and if any defense existed, police would seek to claim that lack of lighting and any quick movement may have led to officers believing that they were under threat.
At the time, Justine had been speaking to police officers from the driver’s side when Noor began shooting at Damond from the passenger side of the squad car, possibly in retaliation of what the two year rookie may have perceived to be a weapon as the woman leaned in.
Of disconcert, the exchange failed to be caught on camera, despite Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity not turning on neither body cameras they were wearing or squad car cameras during the shooting. The two men have been placed on paid administrative leave pending investigations.
Of note, Noor joined the Minneapolis Police Department in March 2015 and is the first Somali-American police officer assigned to the 5th Precinct in the southwest part of the city.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is conducting the investigation, said in a statement that ‘initial interviews with officers’ still weren’t complete two days after the shooting.
The BCA said an autopsy has been conducted on Ms Damond’s body, adding their investigation ‘does not determine whether a law enforcement policy was violated’.
Come Sunday and Monday, crowds gathered to remember the corporate speaker and meditation teacher, who moved from Sydney’s Northern Beaches three years ago and who was set to was to marry her ‘love of her life,’ the following month.
“We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death” – John Ruszczyk – Father of Justine Ruszczyk-Damond. pic.twitter.com/ZBjd9pGgkX
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) July 18, 2017
— Alexis Daish (@LexiDaish) July 17, 2017