Officer who killed Australian bride-to-be is charged with murder

The Minneapolis police officer who mistakenly shot and killed an Australian woman in July was behind bars Tuesday and charged with third-degree murder.

Officer Mohamed Noor was also charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, according to records from the Hennepin County Jail.

Image: Justine DamondImage: Justine Damond

Justine DamondStephen Govel Photography

It was not clear whether Noor turned himself in or was arrested on a warrant, but Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was expected to reveal more details later Tuesday.

Officer who killed Australian bride-to-be is charged with murder
Officer who killed Australian bride-to-be is charged with murder

Freeman had previously said they did not have probable cause to charge Noor for fatally shooting the 40-year-old expat after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.

“I have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the moment he shot the gun he feared for his life, and he used force because he thought he was gonna be killed,” Freeman told activists in a videotaped exchange. “But he won’t answer my questions, because he doesn’t have to, OK? We all have Fifth Amendment rights, and I respect that.”

“And let me just say, it’s not my fault,” Freeman said in the video. “If it isn’t my fault, who didn’t do their jobs? … Investigators — and they don’t work for me. And they haven’t done their job.”

The county attorney’s office said in a statement to NBC News at the time: “We are working diligently on the case to complete the investigation as soon as possible. Beyond that, we cannot comment at this time.”

But on Dec. 18, Freeman apologized for his comments, calling them “ill-advised” and said he was not aware he was being recorded.

Image: Mohamed Noor Image: Mohamed Noor

Image: Police officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot Justine Damond.City of Minneapolis

Noor has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. His fate was left to prosecutors rather than to a grand jury after several high-profile police shootings in the area — and after the grand jury process was criticized as unfair because it rarely results in police officers being charged with crimes.

Damond’s maiden name was Ruszczyk but she had already started using her fiancé Don Damond’s last name.

A life coach and motivational speaker who hailed from Sydney, Damond’s deadly encounter with Noor happened on July 15 when she approached the SUV that Noor and his partner Officer Matthew Harrity were driving in.

Harrity, who was at the wheel, said he was startled by a loud noise just before Damond approached the open driver’s side window and that Noor fired from the passenger seat, striking the woman.

Both officers were wearing body cameras, but they were turned off. So were the headlights of their vehicle.

In the aftermath, Freeman said the shooting of Damond “didn’t have to happen, it shouldn’t have happened,” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

Don Damond said he hoped Freeman would “act swiftly to review the findings and determine the charges.”

Image: Don Damond Speaks in MinneapolisImage: Don Damond Speaks in Minneapolis

Don Damond hugs a neighbor.Adam Bettcher / Reuters

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann, a former Republican congresswoman who represented the Minneapolis exurbs, called Noor — one of the first Somali-American police officers on the force — an “affirmative action hire by the hijab-wearing mayor of Minneapolis.”

Bachmann’s remark was criticized as racist by local Somali community leaders and Minneapolis city leaders.

Also, Minneapolis police officers removed a memorial created by a white nationalist group for Damond that was placed outside the police headquarters.

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