Police Look for Cyclist Who Witnessed Police Officer Shooting

By Petr Svab, Epoch Times
July 19, 2017 4:11 pm Last Updated: July 19, 2017 4:13 pm

Investigators are looking for a cyclist who allegedly witnessed a Minneapolis police officer fatally shoot an Australian woman on Saturday, July 15.

Officers Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor responded to a 911 call from Justine Ruszczyk Damond of a possible assault in an alley behind her home at 5024 Washburn Avenue South in Minneapolis just after 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.

As the officers drove down the alley—Harrity driving, Noor in the passenger seat—Damond approached the car on the driver’s side and Noor shot her through the open car window.

Harrity told investigators that he saw a young man on a bicycle immediately before the shooting. The man stopped at the scene and watched as the officers provided medical assistance to Damond.

Crime scene personnel found a cell phone near Damond’s body. No weapons were recovered.

Body cameras were not turned on until after the shooting incident. The dashboard camera in the car was not turned on. Investigators have no video or audio of the shooting.

The department doesn’t investigate serious incidents involving use of force by its officers. Instead, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety handles the investigations.

The department’s agents interviewed Harrity on July 18. Noor has declined to be interviewed and his attorney did not clarify when an interview would be possible, or if Noor plans to answer questions at all.

The investigators are now asking the cyclist to contact them on 651-793-7000. He was described as an 18-to 25-year-old white male and was bicycling eastbound on West 51st Street.

The circle shows the approximate location of where Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot by a police officer in Minneapolis on July 15, 2017. The arrow shows the direction of approach of a bicyclist who allegedly saw the shooting. (Google Maps)
The circle shows the approximate location of where Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot by a police officer in Minneapolis on July 15, 2017. The arrow shows the direction of approach of a bicyclist who allegedly saw the shooting. (Google Maps)

Background

Noor joined the force in March 2015 as the first Somali-American officer in the department. He has a degree in economics and business administration from Augsburg College. He used to work in property management.

Harrity has been with the Minneapolis Police Department for a year.

Damond, 40, was originally a veterinarian, but worked as a life coach and trainer of yoga and meditation. She was from Sydney and moved to Minneapolis around 2015. She was about to marry her fiancé Don Damond and was already using his name.

The family, community, and officials have called for a speedy and transparent investigation of Damond’s death.