NEWS
21/03/2018 5:52 AM AEDT | Updated 21/03/2018 10:36 PM AEDT

Officer Charged With Murder In Shooting Death Of Justine Damond

Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor killed Damond in July after she called 911.

The Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an Australian woman in July after she called 911 for help has been charged with murder by Hennepin County prosecutors, officials announced.

Mohamed Noor, the officer who shot Justine Damond, turned himself in after authorities issued an arrest warrant Tuesday on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said during a press conference.

Noor was booked at Hennepin County Jail around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and prosecutors requested a judge set his bail at $500,000, according to Freeman. Noor’s attorney did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Damond’s family applauded the charges in a statement, calling them “one step toward justice.”

“No charges can bring our Justine back,” the family wrote. “However, justice demands accountability for those responsible for recklessly killing the fellow citizens they are sworn to protect, and today’s actions reflect that.”

Stephen Govel/Stephen Govel Photography/Handout/Reuters
Justine Damond in 2015.

The decision comes more than three months after Freeman’s initial deadline for announcing whether he would bring charges against Noor. 

“Because the investigation was thorough, we have a nearly second-by-second understanding of what happened, from the moment she called 911 to the moment she was fatally shot by Officer Noor, 13 minutes later,” Freeman said during the press conference Tuesday.

In the eight months leading up Tuesday’s charges, many questions remained about what prompted Noor, 32, to fire his weapon on July 15, 2017 from the passenger seat of a police cruiser, across his partner and through the driver-side window, fatally striking Damond in the abdomen.

Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, were responding to Damond’s report of a possible nearby sexual assault. They were startled by a “loud slap” on their vehicle, Harrity told investigators. An attorney for Harrity said it’s possible the officers were concerned about being ambushed, though Damond’s neighbors have questioned this response, given the area’s low crime rate.

Noor, who was put on paid administrative leave following the shooting, did not provide a statement to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which conducted an investigation and gave its findings to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in September.

“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,” Freeman said Tuesday. “Instead, Officer Noor recklessly and intentionally fired his gun from the passenger’s seat.”

The officers’ body cameras were only activated after the shooting, Freeman said. 

Officer Noor recklessly and intentionally fired his gun from the passenger’s seat. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman

Damond’s death sparked protests across Minneapolis. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have a history of high-profile police brutality incidents, including the July 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile in the suburb of Falcon Heights. A week after Damond’s death, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau was forced to resign.

Justice for Justine, a group of Damond’s neighbors and friends, praised the charges in a statement emailed to HuffPost.

“We are relieved that her killer is being prosecuted and hope for a swift trial that is respectful to Justine and her loved ones,” the statement read. “Police need to be held accountable for their actions that harm individuals and damage communities, just as any one of us would be held accountable.”

Although the charges against Noor may provide some temporary relief to Damond’s family and friends, prosecutors still face an uphill battle. Between 2005 and April 2017, only 35 percent of officers charged with murder or manslaughter for fatal on-duty shootings were convicted, according to research conducted by Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Read the full complaint warrant against Noor below.