Woman calls police for help; one shoots her

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justine damond
Justine Damond called police for help; they shot her.

“I want to know more.”   With those words, spoken at a news conference Sunday afternoon, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges joined a growing number of people who are questioning why police failed to turn on their body cams when responding to a woman’s call for help– especially since shortly after arriving at the scene one of the officers shot and killed her.

Mayor Hodge called the shooting of 40-year-old Australian native Justine Damond a “tragic incident.”  “Unacceptable” might have been more appropriate.  By failing to turn on their body cams to document their encounter with the unarmed Damond, some argue the police shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

Mayor Hodge said she questions why the officers’ body cameras were not turned on, and called on investigators “to share as much information as they can as quickly as they possibly can.”

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Here’s what we know:

Damond, a yoga teacher and ‘spiritual healer,’ called 911 Saturday night to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home.  Two officers responded, and according to the press release issued by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA): “At one point, an officer fired their (sic) weapon, fatally striking a woman.”

According to witnesses, when the police car pulled up Damond walked up to the driver’s side door and began talking to the driver.  She was dressed in her pajamas and clearly unarmed.  The driver, officer Matthew Harrity, 25, had gotten his ‘peace officer’s license’ only last year.  While he spoke with Damond,  the officer in the passenger seat, Mohamed Noor, pulled his weapon for some unspecified reason and shot Damond through the driver’s side door.  No weapon was found at the scene.

In nearly every police shooting of a civilian– whether the civilian is armed or not– police inevitably use their magical abracadabra defense:  “I was in fear for my life.”  It usually works.

Noor is originally from Somalia.  He’s black and the unarmed victim, Damond, is white.  It will be interesting to see if the abracadabra defense is used in this case, and if so, whether or not anyone buys it.

The BCA is investigating.