Minneapolis, MN – Late in the night of July 15, 2017, Justine Maia Ruszczyk called 911 after she heard a sound in the alley of her Southwest Minneapolis home. That call turned into her death. Two Minneapolis Police officers responded to the 911 call in the upper scale neighborhood at 51st Street and Xerxes Avenue South around 11:30 p.m. Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed the 911 caller from the passenger seat of the squad car.
[UPDATED with new BCA report with more details of the shooting – 7pm CDT July 18, 2017]
The latest BCA statement (July 18th) officially named to the two Minneapolis Police officers as:
- Officer Matthew Harrity has been an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for one year.
- Officer Mohamed Noor has been an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for 21 months.
In the new BCA report, details are coming out about the actual shooting. The BCA asked to interview officer Mohamed Noor and he declined with his attorney not providing any clarity to “if ever, an interview would be possible.” Minneapolis Police officer Matthew Harrity, who was driving the squad car that Officer Noor shot Justine from, was interviewed earlier today, July 18th.
Harrity said to the BCA that they drove down the alley with their lights off and reached the end when “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…”
Harrity said that they immediately gave medical assistance to Justine after the shooting but she was pronounced dead on the scene by medical personnel.
Justine Ruszczyk, a.k.a Justine Damond, was a 40 year old Australian native who was engaged to the vice president and general manager of Little Six Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota, 50 year old Don Damond.
Justine had been living in the Minneapolis area for three years and did a wide variety of spiritual healing and neuroscience work, including teaching yoga classes at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community in Southwest Minneapolis.
Justine had her own website spotlighting some of her passions and work. Her last recorded speech, on July 2, 2017, can be seen in the video below:
What’s known about Justine’s last night is that she called 911 to report what she thought could be a sexual assault in the alley. She went outside in her pajamas to greet the police at the end of the block. While speaking with an officer on the driving side of the squad car, another officer, Mohamed Noor, shot Justine in the stomach from the passenger side and killed her.
MPD ofc involved shooting on 5100 blk of Washburn Av S. @MnDPS_BCA investigating & will be releasing info. Follow on twitter for updates.
— Minneapolis Police (@MinneapolisPD) July 16, 2017
About twelve hours after the fatal shooting, Zach Damond, the son of Don Damond, who was soon to marry the slain woman, spoke out on a Facebook video (seen below) about his mother-to-be calling the police for help and then being killed by them.
“I just know that she heard a sound in the alley and she called the police and the cops showed up [deep sigh] and she was a very passionate woman, and she probably, yea she thought there was something bad happening and then the next thing you know, they took my best friend’s life.” – Zach Damond, speaking about his father’s fiancé being killed by police
He spoke about his disdain for the continued police violence and said he wanted to move away from all of this.
“I’m done with all this violence. America sucks. These cops need to get trained differently … I’m just done. Fuck the police. Some of you are good but I’m just done. I’m so done, this has to stop. This has to stop. That’s my mom.” – Zach
The BCA, who is the investigating agency, has released a statement every day since the fatal shooting, as seen above. Their first release keyed-in on the statement that the body cams worn by Minneapolis Police “were not turned on” and “the squad camera did not capture the incident.”
Body cameras have been a hot topic over the last couple of years as the spotlight on police killings has continued to intensify, and the number of people killed by police rises. The City of Minneapolis recently unveiled full plans for a $4 million contract for body cameras with Taser International, and another $2.4 million for staff and other tracking costs.
The fact that the body cameras worn by the Minneapolis Police officers produced no video is not surprising, as a new report shows that a mere five to six hours of footage is recorded by each officer each month.
The two Minneapolis Police officers involved in the killing have been put on paid administrative leave and Mohamed Noor’s future is in the hands of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman as to whether charges get pressed against him and what those charges will be.
Mohamed Noor has yet to be officially named as the officer who killed Justine, but sources have told mainstream press that he is the perpetrator. Noor is 31 years old and has been on the Minneapolis Police force for a short two years. He was the first Somali-American police officer to work with the 5th Precinct in Minneapolis. Noor will be represented by attorney Tom Plunkett.
An outpouring of support and solidarity from across the world has reached the plush, mostly white, Fulton neighborhood in Southwest Minneapolis where neighbors and friends of the Damonds are now asking themselves new questions revolving around police killings.
“This individual died of a gunshot wound of the abdomen.” – Hennepin County Medical Examiner
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s press release can be seen below:2017-4249+Ruszczyk+Justine+Maia
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has said that this killing makes her “heartsick and deeply disturbed“, and had many questions regarding the use of force and the non-use of body cameras and Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau also said they “have many of the same questions“.