Australian woman's US cop killer identified

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Justine Damond
Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, US, on July 17, 2017. Reuters/Stephen Govel/Stephen Govel Photography/Handout

The US cop who gunned down Australian woman Justine Damond has been identified as Mohamed Noor. He has offered his condolences to Damond’s family while his lawyer said he takes the shooting “seriously.”

Noor’s lawyer Tom Plunkett has released a statement, saying being a police officer was a calling for his client. “He entered the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves,” Plunkett said.

Damond’s fiancée also issued a statement about the loss of his bride-to-be, saying his family is “utterly devastated.” Don Damond made an appeal outside his Minneapolis home where his 40-year-old fiancée was gunned down by Noor on July 15.

The reason behind the shooting is still unclear. Plunkett said that several investigations are ongoing.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau assured that the investigation into Damond’s death would be expedited. Noor was placed on paid administrative leave. Minneapolis’ Star Tribune reported his partner was identified as officer Matthew Harrity.

Noor has been recognised as the first Somali-American police officer assigned to the 5th Precinct in the southwest part of the city. He joined the Minneapolis Police Department in March 2015.

'Shots fired, one down'

A police audio, which was uploaded to a Minnesota website, captured the moments around the fatal shooting of Damond, whose maiden name was Ruszczyk. According to news.com.au, she is an Australian spiritual healer and meditation coach.

The audio begins with the description of a “female screaming behind the building.” The officers were heard calling for back-up.

When the police car arrived in the alley, Damond reportedly approached its driver’s side window. Noor shot across his partner at Damond more than once from the passenger seat. “Shots fired, have one down,” one of the officers said.

The audio also recorded their attempts to perform CPR on Damond. A mobile phone reportedly found near her body made police think it was a gun, but no weapons were recovered at the scene.

Neighbor Joan Hargrave said the killing was “an execution.” “This is a tragedy, that someone who’s asking for help would call the police and get shot by the police,” she said, according to Argus Leader.

Her fiancée said Damond’s death was a loss to all the people who knew her. He said she touched so many people with her loving and generous heart and that she was “living a life of openness, love and kindness.”

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