Heavy, July 17, 2017 (thanks to Richard):
Mohamed Noor, the Minneapolis police officer who is accused of shooting and killing Justine Damond, an Australian yoga teacher and spiritual healer, was the first Somali-American officer in his precinct.
Mohamed Noor was the first Somali-American Muslim officer in his precinct. The Mayor heralded Noor’s induction into the force. “I want to take a moment to recognize Officer Mohamed Noor, the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department,” she wrote. They held celebrations.
In 2016, though, she wrote a lengthy Facebook post that praised the hiring of Noor. A city newsletter said Noor was hired in March 2015 and “is Fifth Precinct’s first Somali-American Officer.” A welcoming event in his honor “was well attended with hundreds of people showing up to meet, congratulate, and welcome him to the precinct,” the newsletter said.You can’t make this stuff up.
Justine Damond was shot and killed while wearing her pajamas and speaking to another police officer after calling 911 to report a possible assault in an alley behind her home on July 15, reports The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Mohamed Noor: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
A year ago, the arrival of Noor on the Minnesota police force was celebrated by the mayor and Somali community he hails from. There is a pending federal complaint against him, though, by a former social worker from Minneapolis who says Noor and other officers violated her constitutional rights in March by ordering her detention at a hospital after she called 911 to report a drug crime and other issues. You can read that complaint below.
Damond was shot and killed while wearing her pajamas and speaking to another police officer after calling 911 to report a possible assault in an alley behind her home on July 15, reports The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The shooting death has caused outrage in both Australia and Minnesota, where Damond, who also went by the name Justine Ruszczyk, was a beloved teacher of meditation who held betterment workshops and was supposed to be married in August.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Noor Shot a Pajama-Clad Damond Through the Door of a Police Cruiser, Reports AllegeAuthorities have been very vague and tight-lipped on the shooting, saying that it’s under investigation.
However, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper has reported, through three sources, that Damond, 40, was in her pajamas when shot and was speaking to Noor’s partner at the time through the window of a police car in which Noor was allegedly a passenger.
“Three sources with knowledge of the incident said Sunday that two officers in one squad car, responding to the 911 call, pulled into the alley. Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver’s side door and was talking to the driver. The officer in the passenger seat pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver’s side door, sources confirmed. No weapon was found at the scene,” the Star Tribune reported.
CBS Minneapolis reports that Noor has an attorney, Tom Plunkett. The television station reported that Damond “made the 911 call and was speaking to police officers Saturday night. They were near the alley when the officer in the passenger seat reached across and shot her. A cell phone was found near Damond’s body.”
Dispatch audio shows that there was a report of a a female “behind the building.” Then, a report of “shots fired” and “one down.”
Noor’s partner was allegedly “stunned” when Noor opened fire, KARE11 reported through a source.
“We take this seriously with great compassion for all persons who are being touched by this,” Noor’s attorney told the television station.
KTSP also reported some of the same details, adding that Damond was shot multiple times.
Family members say the Australian woman had called 911 herself to report a possible assault in an alley behind her home when the officers responded to the call.
“Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S. just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday,” the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a news release. “At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.” The shooting occurred around 11:30 p.m. The BCA stressed in the press release that the investigation was in its early stages.
The release said neither officer’s body camera was on.
2. The Mayor Recognized Noor’s Arrival on the Force, Where He Became the First Somali Officer in His PrecinctMayor Betsy Hodges has been very vocal in expressing concern about the Damond shooting.
In 2016, though, she wrote a lengthy Facebook post that praised the hiring of Noor. A city newsletter said Noor was hired in March 2015 and “is Fifth Precinct’s first Somali-American Officer.” A welcoming event in his honor “was well attended with hundreds of people showing up to meet, congratulate, and welcome him to the precinct,” the newsletter said.
Hodges joined in that welcome.
“I want to take a moment to recognize Officer Mohamed Noor, the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department,” she wrote.
“Officer Noor has been assigned to the 5th Precinct, where his arrival has been highly celebrated, particularly by the Somali community in and around Karmel Mall. The community even hosted a meet and greet event (see pics) to welcome him,” Hodges wrote. “A wonderful sign of building trust and community policing at work. Welcome Officer Noor and all of the new officers in their new precinct assignments across the City.”
At the time, one community member wrote on Facebook, “Somalis are taking the rightful place in the society and fully integrated. The newest Somali American Police in the Minneapolis PD, Officer Mohamed Noor…We are proud of our young law enforcement agents in our American Somali community. You have our support and we got your back.”
In 2015, the same year Noor was hired, the Minneapolis police force received national attention for its efforts to forge better ties with the Somali immigrant community.
Hodges has expressed great concern about Damond’s death.
She wrote on Facebook, “Tonight, I’m sad, and disturbed. This is a tragedy—for the family, for a neighborhood I know well, and for our whole city. My thoughts are with the family and the community. There is a long road of healing ahead, and a lot of work remains to be done. I hope to help us along that path in any way I can. But right now, I’m sad, disturbed, and looking for more answers, like many of you. I’ll share more information when I can.”
3. Damond Was Engaged to Be Married & Gave Meditation SeminarsEngaged to be married in August, with a fiancee and soon-to-be stepson, Damond had her whole life ahead of her. She had moved to America, friends back in Sydney said, to follow her heart.
She was engaged to Don Damond, who works as a vice president and general manager for a Minnesota casino. Back in Australia, Damond was the daughter of a prominent bookstore owner.
In America, she held seminars on yoga and meditation at a local consciousness center. That center wrote on Facebook, “We are so sad to report the tragic shooting of Justine Damond. Justine was one of the most loving people you would ever meet. We can’t even imagine LHSC with out her.”
She was remembered for her beautiful spirit and profound awareness of healing, which she focused her life around after losing family members to cancer, according to her website. Friends called her a beautiful person and “evolved soul,” and protests have erupted in Minneapolis as activists and family members demand answers.
Justine ran Tuesday night classes on meditation for the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community in Minnesota, which calls itself “a center for conscious living.”
“Originally trained as a Veterinary Surgeon, Justine has also studied and practiced yoga and meditation for over 17 years, is a qualified yoga instructor, a personal health & life coach (EFT, Theta and Reconnective Healing practitioner) and meditation teacher, embracing and teaching the neuro-scientific benefits of meditation with trainings under internationally renowned neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza from What the Bleep,” the site’s bio for Justine reads.
4. Noor Has Degrees In Business & Economics but Is the Subject of a Pending Federal ComplaintAccording to a City of Minneapolis newsletter, Noor “has a Degree in Economics and Business Administration from Augsburg College. Prior to joining the Department he worked in Property Management primarily in commercial and residential properties both in Minneapolis and the St. Louis Missouri/ East Metro market. Officer Noor is excited to be on the 5th Precinct roster and looking forward to being a part of the community.”
Augsburg College is a liberal arts and professional studies college in Minneapolis.
The newsletter adds, “Officer Noor joined the Department in March 2015 and just recently completed his Field Training.”
The Somali community in Minnesota is the nation’s largest.
“The largest Somali diaspora community in the United States lives in Minnesota. Elders and parents in Minnesota’s Somali community increasingly worry that children born in the United States lack connection to their Somali heritage,” reports the Somali Museum of Minnesota.
According to Minneapolis journalist Farrah Fazal, Noor “used to work in property management in real estate in St. Louis/East Metro area.”
The open federal case in the United States District Court, District of Minnesota was filed against Noor, two other police officers, and the City of Minneapolis, by a woman named Teresa M. Graham.
Federal court documents say the complaint is an action for money damages arising out of a May 25, 2017. The complaint accuses Noor and the other officers “without any reasonable or legal cause” of forcing “their way into Plaintiff’s house,” where they’re accused of having “violently and forcibly detained her, and transported her to a hospital against her will.” She’s alleging violations of constitutional rights.
Graham is a retired social worker from Minneapolis.
She alleged that she had called 911 “to report an unknown young male who was sitting on her retaining wall behind her house, smoking marijuana and appeared to be under the influence of drugs.” She did not receive communication or a visit from police, she said, so she assumed they “did not do anything in response to her call.”
She called police again.
She received a phone call from a lieutenant who told her police had driven by her house that morning in response to her 911 call. She also sent an email that afternoon to the mayor, police chief and others “complaining about the lack of response to vulnerable adult reports that she had filed related to the illness and death of her sister in November 2016.”
Police reports allege that “one or more relatives of Plaintiff reported to police that Plaintiff has some sort of mental health issues,” the complaint says.
At about 8 p.m. that day, Officer Noor and another police officer came to her house to perform a “welfare check” and Noor “reported that the welfare check was in response to a request” by “an anonymous cousin.”
They knocked on her door, and she opened it. The other officer told the woman that “a cousin had called and accused Plaintiff of making threats to him and his family.”
That officer told Graham that “they came to find out if she was okay and told Plaintiff that a family member had called and stated there was a problem,” the complaint alleges. The officers wouldn’t tell her who called.
Noor “eventually stated that the issue was over and apologized,” and the officers left, the complaint alleges. Graham then called 911 to complain about the police encounter. She believed it was retaliation for her earlier complaint and was “bizarre.” She also called 911 to “report concerns about her brother, a vulnerable adult with serious medical needs.”
Noor and two other officers again came to Graham’s house. Another officer had “ordered that Plaintiff be involuntarily transported by ambulance to a hospital,” according to police reports of Noor and a third officer.
Graham told officers to leave and shut the door. They broke a screen insert in the storm door and removed it, her complaint alleges. They knocked repeatedly on her front door.
She claims that the officers forced their way into her home without permission. “Defendant Officer Noor grabbed Plaintiff’s phone from her hand and then grabbed her right wrist and upper arm, thereby immobilizing her,” the complaint says.
Graham was told she was going to the hospital because it was believed she was in a “mental health crisis.” She was accused of calling 911 “a million times,” the complaint says. In the application for emergency admission, she was accused of continuously calling 911 and being verbally agitated and not making sense, which she denies.
She was held at the medical center for more than 1.5 hours, at which time a physician ordered that she be discharged, the complaint says.
According to KARE11, “Noor has two open complaints against him from 2017 and one from 2016,” although the station does not detail what they are about.
5. Noor Is on Administrative Leave While the Shooting Is InvestigatedNoor has been placed on administrative leave, while state authorities investigate the shooting. That’s a standard action in officer-involved shootings.
Zach Damond, who would have become Justine’s stepson when she married his father in a month, demanded answers.