Partner Of Black Police Officer On Trial For Fatally Shooting Australian Woman Says The Cop Feared For Life
In 2017, Damond was shot by police after calling to report a possible sexual assault.
The partner of a Somali American police officer accused of shooting an Australian American woman in 2017 claimed he felt his life was in danger at the time of the incident.
According to The Associated Press, Minneapolis police officer Matthew Harrity testified in court Thursday that he felt threatened while responding to Justine Ruszczyk Damond's call about an alleged sexual assault.
On July 15, 2017, Damond called the police twice to report a possible sexual assault behind her home. The 40-year-old did not receive the help she hoped for that fateful night.
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Instead, the victim was shot once in the abdomen by Mohamed Noor, the 33-year-old Somali American officer. Noor was charged with murder and manslaughter for her death.
Harrity told the jury that Damond approached the back of the squad car the night of the shooting. The pair investigated the dark alley where the alleged assault was said to have taken place. However, they did not see a woman in trouble.
Their body cams were initially not on, and their squad car lights and siren were turned off. They reportedly used a spotlight to investigate the alley.
“At this time, I hear something hit the car and I also hear some sort of murmur,” he said in court.
Prosecutor Amy Sweasy asked Harrity if he usually pulls his gun when he is startled. He answered stating that it depends on the particular situation.
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“In this situation, with the thump and being startled, I went straight to, ‘This could be an ambush,’” Harrity replied. “My first thought is, I’m going to make sure whatever it was is not a threat to me.”
They looked around for roughly two minutes and stopped at the edge of the alley. Harrity heard a thump on the the driver's side rear door.
CBS Minnesota reports Harrity had the safety hood of his standard issue 9mm off at the start of the investigation. He claimed he wanted to be prepared for anything. But he did not fire; Noor fired once.
Both officers tried to use CPR to save the woman. Conflicting reports claim the officers' body cams were off the entire time of the incident. But The AP reports the cams were turned on after the shooting.
According to The Star Tribune, there was one witness -- a 16-year-old passing by the alley about 13 seconds after the shooting. The teen testified Wednesday where the 29-second video that captured the two officers trying to revive the victim was shown to jurors.
“Stay with me, stay with me, stay breathing,” Harrity said in the footage. “Noor, breathe, just breathe.”
Testimony continues in the high-profile police-involved shooting. Investigators in charge of the case have yet to discover the cause of the two Damond calls. There was reportedly a loud sound before the first call, but that has yet to be confirmed.
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