A Minneapolis police officer who shot dead an unarmed Australian yoga teacher in her pyjamas after responding to her 911 call has been charged with murder.
Officer Mohamed Noor, 32, turned himself in Tuesday morning and is held on murder and manslaughter charges for gunning down 40-year-old Justine Damond on July 15.
He shot Justine in the stomach when she approached his squad car minutes after she called police to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.
Charging documents reveal Justine said ‘I’m dead’ or ‘I’m dying’ as she clasped her stomach after being shot. She was given CPR by the officers but died at the scene.
State prosecutor and head of the County Attorney’s office, Mike Freeman, said that there was ‘no evidence’ that Noor was threatened by Justine.
‘In the short time between when Ms Damond-Ruszczyk approached the squad car and the time Officer Noor fired the fatal shot, there is no evidence that officer Noor encountered a threat, appreciated a threat, investigated a threat or confirmed a threat that justified his decision to use deadly force,’ he said.
‘Instead, Officer Noor recklessly and intentionally fired his handgun from the passenger seat in disregard for human life. Such actions violate the criminal law.’
Justine’s family said in a written statement that they’re pleased that Mr Freeman decided to bring charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
They said they hope a strong case will be presented and Noor will be convicted, calling the charges ‘one step toward justice for this iniquitous act’.
‘No charges can bring our Justine back,’ Justine’s father John Ruszcyzk and Mr Damond said in the joint statement.
‘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 Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the shooting, said in a statement that he had declined to be interviewed and that his attorney had not said if or when an interview would take place.
However, many of the key parts of Noor’s narrative gel with the version of events released by the BCA, who had interviewed his partner, Matthew Harrity.
Justine was unarmed and had called 911 to alert police to what she believed may have been a rape taking place behind her home.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a friend of Noor’s told DailyMail.com that the officer had opened fire when an unidentified figure emerged from the dark and ran towards the vehicle.
The officer said he was not sure what the person was carrying and momentarily opened fire through his driver-partner’s open window.
It was confirmed that Justine’s cell phone was found alongside her during the tragedy.
Noor told associates it was dark and the situation was already tense as the caller had been ‘panicking’ when making the 911 call reporting an assault in the alley beyond where Justine lived with her fiancé and his son.
The squad car, driven by his partner Matthew Harrity traveled hastily down the unlit alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues south from West 50th Street toward West 51st Street.
Crucially, the vehicle did not have its lights on and this may have been so as not to give any suspect notice that police had arrived and buy precious time to apprehend the target. That the car was unlit was disclosed by Harrity to the BCA.
Both Noor and the BCA’s version of events agree on the car’s lights being off.
According to Noor’s version when they reached the end of the alley, they came across a waiting, panicking figure.
It was dark, and the figure was moving around and approached their vehicle.
Noor said he did not know whether the figure who rushed towards their vehicle was the 911 caller or even if it was a man or woman.
He fired his weapon through Harrity’s open driver’s window hitting his victim once in the abdomen.