MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was charged with the shooting death of an Australian woman, Hennepin County Attorney Freeman announced Tuesday.
Noor, 32, of New Hope, turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Damond was shot July 15, just 13 minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her house. She died from a gunshot wound to the stomach.
Damond, 40, was a life coach and engaged to be married.
Noor was booked in Hennepin County Jail on felony charges of second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. His bail is set at $500,000.
In a statement released Tuesday, Freeman said the investigation was thorough, and subsequently, he and investigators have a second by second understanding of the evening when Damond was shot by Noor.
"Despite the fact that no body-worn cameras were operating at the time of the shooting, we know that less than a minute before firing the fatal shot, Officer Noor was sitting in the passenger seat of the police cruiser,” Freeman said. “Noor had just typed into the squad car’s computer ‘Code 4.’ That message, which went to the police dispatcher, meant that the officers had completed their investigation, were safe and needed no assistance.”
According to the complaint, which was unsealed Tuesday, Noor's partner, Matthew Harrity said that seconds after Noor entered Code 4, he heard a voice and caught a glimpse of a person's head outside his driver side window. Harrity claimed he was "spooked", took his gun outside the holster and held it against his rib cage pointed downward.
"Officer Harrity said he then heard a sound he described like a light bulb dropping on the floor and saw a flash,” Freeman said. “Harrity checked to make sure he was not shot, then looked to his right and saw Officer Noor’s right arm extended across him towards Officer Harrity’s open window. Officer Harrity then looked out his window and saw a woman. Ms. Damond Ruszczyk put her hands on the wound on her left side and said 'I’m dying,' or 'I’m dead.' Officer Harrity could see both of her hands, believed there was no threat and got out of the car.”
“In the short time between when Ms. Damond Ruszczyk approached the squad car and the time that he 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 the decision to use deadly force,” Freeman said.
Prior to the charges brought against Noor, Freeman convened a grand jury to gather additional evidence relating to Damond's death due to Minneapolis police officers refusing to fully cooperate with the investigation.
That investigation was completed by the grand jury on Monday.
Freeman said the law prevents officers from being charged unless they are “unacceptably reckless.” He says he agrees with that.
He said Noor “violated the rules, and deserves to be charged” in Damond’s death and that Noor abused his authority to use deadly force.
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