It appear the tragic shooting of Australian Justine Damond in Minneapolis the other night may be a case of death by diversity.
The death of Justine Damond, who called 911 to report a possible crime only to be killed by a responding Minneapolis police officer, has left her grieving family, neighborhood and nation demanding answers in the latest police-involved shooting to thrust Minnesota into the international spotlight.
While many of the details about what happened Saturday night in the city’s southwest corner have not been disclosed, this much was: She called to report a possible assault in the alley behind her house in one of the city’s safest neighborhoods and was unarmed when officer Mohamed Noor shot her.
Amid a public outpouring of grief and outrage, Chief Janeé Harteau issued her first comments on the shooting, saying she too wanted an explanation, and called on the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to perform a speedy investigation.
The Hennepin County medical examiner said Monday evening that Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Noor, a second-year officer whose identity became public Monday, has retained a lawyer. Attorney Thomas Plunkett said in a statement that Noor “takes these events very seriously.”
“He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves,” Plunkett said. “Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.”
Let’s reverse roles and have a white officer shooting a black citizen: Do you think we’d be hearing this pablum about how caring the officer is? We doubt it.
Looks to us like Noor was tragically incompetent.
After changing careers to join the Minneapolis Police Department in 2015, Mohamed Noor was lauded by the mayor and his fellow Somalis as a welcome addition to the force.
“I want to take a moment to recognize Officer Mohamed Noor, the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department,” Mayor Betsy Hodges posted on Facebook last year. “Officer Noor has been assigned to the 5th Precinct, where his arrival has been highly celebrated, particularly by the Somali community in and around Karmel Mall.”
Noor, 31, who has two active complaints against him in his police file, is one of nine Somali officers in the department, and he became the first to patrol the Fifth Precinct in the city’s southwest neighborhoods. He worked the “middle watch” evening shift, and on Monday went from one of hundreds of the city’s anonymous beat cops to the latest officer embroiled in controversy after the fatal shooting of 40-year-old Justine Damond, an unarmed civilian, in her south Minneapolis alley after she called 911 to report a possible crime.
The Somali American Police Association, of which Noor is a member, declined to comment, as did Minneapolis Police Federation President Lt. Bob Kroll. Both said they are waiting for the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to complete its investigation.
Thomas Plunkett, Noor’s attorney, said Monday that the officer “extends his condolences to the family and anyone else who has been touched by this event. He takes their loss seriously and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers.”
“He came to the United States at a young age and is thankful to have had so many opportunities,” Plunkett said in the statement. “He takes these events very seriously because, for him, being a police officer is a calling.”
We’d argue his calling lies elsewhere.
According to the Office of Police Conduct Review, Noor has had three complaints filed against him, two of which remain open. Another was closed without discipline. Noor has been sued once in his short career with the police department, stemming from an incident on May 25 in which he and two other officers went to a woman’s home and took her to a hospital, which the woman alleges constituted false imprisonment, assault and battery. According to the ongoing lawsuit, the officers claimed they had reason to believe the woman was suffering a mental health crisis — which she denied — and Noor “grabbed her right wrist and upper arm,” exacerbating a previous shoulder injury in the process.
Plunkett said in a statement that the current environment for police is difficult, but Noor accepted it as part of his calling. The officer is a caring person with a family he loves, and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing, he said.
Again, would we see such mush if this were a Caucasian officer who just shot a black resident? We doubt it. We’re also wondering when the protest marches begin.