Drawn by a call for “Justice for Justine,” about 75 people met Tuesday night in Minneapolis to talk about what they say are needed reforms to the Minneapolis Police Department.
Justine Damond, 40, who grew up in Australia and was about to marry an American, was shot and killed on the night of July 15 by Mohamed Noor, a Minneapolis police officer responding to Damond’s 911 call about a possible sexual assault behind her house. What motivated Noor to shoot remains unclear, in part because he has not granted an interview to Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators. Noor’s partner, officer Matthew Harrity, told the BCA that he was startled by a loud noise immediately before Noor fired his gun.
The shooting sparked another round of calls for answers and police reform by citizens, family members, activists and politicians.
Communities United Against Police Brutality, which has been active in organizing responses to other officer-involved shootings in the Twin Cities, called the Tuesday night gathering to solicit grass-roots suggestions for improving the Police Department, said Michelle Gross, the group’s president.
“We are here to work and come up with ideas you want to see happen right now that will change policing in Minneapolis,” Gross said.
Among those present were Kimberly Handy Jones, the mother of Cordale Handy, who was shot by St. Paul Police in March, and Minneapolis mayoral candidates Aswar Rahman and Raymond Dehn.
Ted Mika said new police officers should be tested to see how they handle tense encounters.
“It would be to see if they have anger problems or trouble in stressful situations,” Mika said. “Maybe there’s another job for them on the force that doesn’t involve them patrolling.”
Someone else said a percentage of officers should live within a 5-mile radius of the area they serve. The public should have access to body-camera footage, and officers who lie on police reports or in court should be terminated, others said.
Tuesday’s meeting comes after new information that details what happened just before Damond was fatally shot.
A woman who is not specifically named slapped the police vehicle behind her Minneapolis home moments before an officer inside the SUV shot and killed her, according to newly submitted court documents.
In an application for a search warrant filed in Hennepin County District Court and made public Monday, a state BCA homicide investigator wrote that about 11:30 p.m. on July 15 police arrived in the alley behind the 5000 block of Washburn Avenue S. and “a female ‘slaps’ the back of the patrol squad.”
The filing continued, “After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley, approximately 10 to 20 feet north of 51st St.” after being shot by Noor, who was in the passenger seat of the squad being driven by Harrity.
Damond’s family and authorities have said that she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in progress.
The search of the scene roughly seven hours after the shooting yielded items that may help authorities better understand the circumstances leading to Noor shooting Damond, who was unarmed.
Submitted for forensic examination are a 9-millimeter cartridge shell, the cellphone found near Damond, blood from the rear driver’s side door of the squad car, fingerprint evidence from the rear of the squad car and other spots on the vehicle’s exterior.
Investigators also were granted court permission to search Damond’s home. No evidence was taken from the residence, a filing in that search said.
The death of Damond, who moved to Minneapolis from Australia about two years ago, has attracted international attention and led to the resignation of Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
Noor’s attorney Thomas Plunkett said this week that his client has asked that an unauthorized GoFundMe page to raise money for him be taken down.
Plunkett said Noor didn’t authorize the fundraiser and asked that the page be removed. Noor has also asked that any money raised be returned to donors, Plunkett said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.