Cop who shot Australian dead in Minnesota had two years' experience

Tuesday, 18 July 2017, 04:19:10 AM. Officials in Minnesota are investigating why an Australian woman was shot and killed over the weekend by a police officer.

cop-who-shot-australian-dead-in-minnesota-had-two-years-and-039;-experience photo 1 Video: Minneapolis neighbourhood grappling with shooting of Australian woman (ABC News)

The US police officer who shot dead Australian woman Justine Damond in a Minneapolis alley has been identified as having little more than two years' experience on the force.

Officer Mohammed Noor shot Ms Damond more than once from the passenger seat of his police vehicle.

"We take this seriously with great compassion for all persons who are being touched by this," his attorney Tom Plunkett told Minneapolis TV station WCCO.

Mr Plunkett confirmed his client fired at the 40-year-old Australian bride-to-be, according to WCCO.

Ms Damond called police just before midnight on Saturday after hearing a possible assault taking place in an alley behind her Minneapolis home and was in her pyjamas when she approached Noor's police vehicle.

Mr Noor, the first Somali-American officer at Minneapolis' 5th Precinct, was in the passenger seat and fired multiple times across his partner at Ms Damond, another Minneapolis TV station, KSTP, reported.

A mobile phone was reportedly found near Ms Damond's body.

cop-who-shot-australian-dead-in-minnesota-had-two-years-and-039;-experience photo 2 Video: Australian woman shot dead by police in Minneapolis (Image - LinkedIn: Justine Ruszczyk) (ABC News)

The shooting has shattered Ms Damond's family and friends in Australia and the US and outraged residents of Minneapolis and adjoining St Paul who are still reeling from other high-profile police shootings.

Ms Damond's American fiance Don Damond thanked family and friends around the world "for the amazing outpouring of love and support".

"Our hearts are broken and we are utterly devastated by the loss of Justine," Mr Damond said.

"Sadly, her family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived.

"We've lost the dearest of people and we're desperate for information.

"Piecing together Justine's last moments before the homicide would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy."

cop-who-shot-australian-dead-in-minnesota-had-two-years-and-039;-experience photo 3 Video: Justine Damond's fiance speaks after she was fatally shot by Minneapolis police (ABC News)

Ms Damond's death from a police gun has also generated widespread media coverage across the US.

Officer Noor and his partner's body cameras were not turned on and their police car dashboard camera did not capture the incident.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she has "a lot of questions why the body cameras were not on".

"I know many of you are frustrated at the pace of information being released around Saturday night's shooting," she wrote in a Monday Facebook post. "I am too."

cop-who-shot-australian-dead-in-minnesota-had-two-years-and-039;-experience photo 4 Photo: A memorial for Justine Damond was set up on Sunday local time. (AP: Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune) cop-who-shot-australian-dead-in-minnesota-had-two-years-and-039;-experience photo 5 Photo: Justine Damond was engaged to Don Damond. The pair planned to marry next month. (Supplied)

Ms Damond's death is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, not the Minneapolis Police Department.

Officer Noor and his partner are on paid administrative leave.

Ms Damond, formerly Justine Ruszczyk who took her fiancé surname before next month's planned wedding, moved to the US in 2015 and worked as a spiritual mentor in the Minneapolis area.

Her violent death was a shock to relatives, friends and colleagues who described her as a peaceful, calm and a positive force.

Ms Damond's stepson, Zach Damond, is desperate for answers.

"My mum is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," the 22-year-old said.

Her family in Sydney has called for privacy.

"This is a very difficult time for our family. We are trying to come to terms with this tragedy and to understand why this has happened," they said in a statement.

cop-who-shot-australian-dead-in-minnesota-had-two-years-and-039;-experience photo 6 Photo: A crowd gathers to remember Justine Damond. (AP: Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune)

The incident has shone new light on police shootings in the US.

The Washington Post reported Ms Damond was one of at least 524 people fatally shot by police in the US this year and the fifth in Minnesota.

The Minneapolis-St Paul area is still reeling from the acquittal last month of a police officer who shot dead a man, Philando Castile, during a traffic stop while Castile's girlfriend live streamed the horrifying incident.

Violent protests also flared after two officers fatally shot 24-year-old Jamar Clark in 2015 and were not charged.

cop-who-shot-australian-dead-in-minnesota-had-two-years-and-039;-experience photo 7 Photo: Minnesota BCA Crime Scene Team attend the scene. (The Star Tribune: Richard Tsong-Taatarii)


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