Mohamed Noor, 31, is the officer accused of shooting Damond, 40, as the yoga teacher spoke to Harrity through the window of his police cruiser. Family members say that the police officers were responding to a 911 call Justine placed after hearing a noise in the alley behind her home.
Neither officer has been formally identified by police, but their names were both widely reported in Minneapolis news media based on sources, and Noor’s attorney has released a statement in which he says the Somali-American officer considered police work a calling.
A search warrant now claims an unidentified woman “slapped” the squad car before Noor fired. According to ABC News, the warrant says, “Upon police arrival, a female ‘slaps’ the back of the patrol squad … After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Harrity Was in the Driver’s Seat of the Squad When Noor Is Accused of Shooting Through the Driver’s Side Door
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, released its most detailed accounting of it yet on July 18. BCA identified Justine Damond as Justine Ruszczyk; Damond was the name she used professionally.
“BCA agents interviewed Officer Harrity earlier today,” BCA wrote on July 18. “Officer Noor has declined to be interviewed by BCA agents at this time. Officer Noor’s attorney did not provide clarification on when, if ever, an interview would be possible.”
According to the BCA’s preliminary investigation, “officers Harrity and Noor responded to a 911 call from a woman now identified as Ruszczyk of a possible assault near her residence just after 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Officer Harrity was driving. Officer Noor was in the passenger seat. The officers drove south through the alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues toward West 51st Street in search of a suspect. All squad lights were off.”
As they reached West 51st Street, continued BCA, “Officer Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad. Immediately afterward Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side window of the squad. Harrity indicated that Officer Noor discharged his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the open driver’s side window. The officers immediately exited the squad and provided medical attention until medical personnel arrived. Ruszczyk was pronounced dead at the scene. Both officers have been placed on standard administrative leave.”
Officer Harrity told investigators “that the officers saw an 18-25 year old white male who was bicycling eastbound on West 51st Street immediately before the shooting. This individual stopped at the scene and watched as the officers provided medical assistance to Ruszczyk. BCA agents would like to speak with this person, and anyone else who may have witnessed the incident. These individuals are asked to contact the BCA at 651-793-7000.”
Crime scene personnel recovered a cell phone near the victim, BCA reported, adding, “No weapons were recovered.”
“Body cameras were not turned on until after the shooting incident. The squad camera was not turned on. Investigators are aware of no video or audio of the shooting. The BCA’s investigation does not determine whether a law enforcement agency policy was violated. That would be reviewed through the agency’s internal affairs process,” continued the BCA.
Dispatch audio shows that there was a report of a female “behind the building.” Then, a report of “shots fired” and “one down.” The audio references that the sound of what may have been aerial fireworks in the area was also heard.
Sources previously told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Noor allegedly fired through the driver’s side door from the passenger seat as Harrity spoke with Damond in that seat.
“Three sources with knowledge of the incident said Sunday that two officers in one squad car, responding to the 911 call, pulled into the alley. Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver’s side door and was talking to the driver. The officer in the passenger seat pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver’s side door, sources confirmed. No weapon was found at the scene,” the Star Tribune reported.
Damond’s family told the media she had called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley near her home around 11:30 p.m. on July 15; her soon-to-be stepson, Zach Damond, said in a video posted online that she heard a noise.
2. Harrity Was reportedly ‘Stunned’ When Noor Shot Damond & Works as a Community Service Officer
One news report said that Harrity was allegedly “stunned” when Noor opened fire on Damond, who was struck multiple times and was holding a cell phone. A 2016 city newsletter welcomed Harrity as a community service officer.
The BCA account makes no reference of that, though.
“According to police sources, Noor shot across his partner and out the window of the squad car, striking Damond. When Noor opened fire, his partner was ‘stunned,'” reported KARE11.
Harrity is 25-years-old and has only been on the police force for one year, according to BCA.
You can read Officer Noor’s personnel file here:
You can read Officer Harrity’s personnel file here:
Harrity’s file says he received a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2015. He is from Mendota Heights, Minnesota. He assisted officers in non-enforcement duties before becoming a police officer. From July through December 2015, he worked as a correctional officer at Stillwater Prison. He was also a recreation director at a Boys and Girls Club and a liquor store cashier. He was also a volunteer baseball coach for a Boys and Girls club.
Noor’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, has released a statement that reported that Noor came to the U.S. at a young age, considers law enforcement a calling, and extends his condolences to the family.
A city newsletter says that Noor was hired in March 2015 and became the first Somali-American officer in his precinct. He has degrees in economics and business from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. His arrival on the force was celebrated by the mayor and community at the time.
3. Protests Have Ignited Over the Shooting & Damond’s Emotional Fiancee Recalled Her Quick Wit
Vigils and rallies have broken out in the wake of Justine’s shooting, with her fiancee and son both giving emotional statements to the news media. Don Damond told the news media on July 17 that the family members’ hearts were broken and that they have been given little information about what happened to her.
“She was so kind. So darn funny. She made us all laugh with her great wit and her humor. It’s difficult to fathom how to go forward without her,” Don said.
Damond’s son and Justine’s future stepson, Zach Damond, has also spoken out in the media about the shooting. In a video, he called Justine his “best friend” and “a passionate woman” and alleged she had called 911 for help because she heard a noise. His comments came in a video that Women’s March Minnesota posted to Facebook. Be aware that his comments are graphic in places.
“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 bullsh*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*ck 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.”
4. Both Officers Have Complaints in Their Backgrounds
Both Noor and Harrity are on administrative leave. However, that’s standard at this stage in a fatal use-of-force investigation.
“City records show Harrity has one open complaint on file,” KTSP reported. The nature of it is not clear.
Noor had three complaints on his file, with one being dismissed and two open. He also has a pending federal lawsuit in which a retired social worker alleges he and other officers wrongfully committed her to a hospital after she called 911 to report a drug crime and other issues. Heavy has filed an open records request with the state seeking details of the other complaints.
5. Damond Worked as a Yoga Teacher & Spiritual Healer
The praise for Damond was effusive after her death. Friends who knew her praised her profound nature, her caring for others, and her beautiful spirit.
Justine was from Sydney, Australia, where her father sells books. She held meditation and yoga classes at a local consciousness center in Minnesota and had a website devoted to healing, a focus she wrote stemmed from a family history of cancer.
Friend Angela Pedersen spoke for many when she wrote on Facebook: “I am in shock and disbelief about the passing of Justine Damond last night. Someone I would consider a friend and a highly evolved soul,” she wrote on Facebook. “My heart aches for her fiancé and mother in law who often accompanied Justine while she taught some profound meditation classes, sound healing classes, and her Sunday messages at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community. I am happy to have known Justine and her untimely, tragic death is a reminder to live life fully, love deeply, and take risks to love as we are not promised tomorrow.”
Another friend recalled Justine’s profound nature.
“My heart is heavy with disbelief at the news that one of our resident speakers at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, Justine Damond, was shot and killed by police in South Minneapolis late last night. Details are sketchy at this time. Justine spoke at LHSC on July 2nd. She always had such a profound message and loved going ‘down the rabbit hole,’” wrote Ella Davis-Suggs on Facebook.
Justine had a website dedicated to her healing activities.
“Discover your brain. Master your mind. Open your heart,” it reads.
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