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Cop startled by ‘loud sound’ before shooting bride-to-be: investigators

The Minnesota cop who shot and killed an Australian bride-to-be opened fire on her after being startled by a “loud sound” near his patrol car, investigators say. Officer Mohamed Noor, 31, began blasting at 40-year-old Justine Damond, of Minneapolis, just moments after he and his partner, Matthew Harrity, heard the noise in the alley behind her house, according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The agency provided an update Tuesday on their investigation into the Saturday night shooting. ADVERTISING Officers Noor and Harrity had been called to Damond’s home after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault happening behind the residence. Investigators say Noor, who was sitting in the passenger seat, shot the Sydney-born yoga instructor through the driver’s side window — striking her in the abdomen as she approached their vehicle. She was still wearing her pajamas. While Noor has refused to be interviewed, Harrity chose to speak with investigators on Tuesday, along with his lawyer, Fred Bruno. He described went down on Saturday, both before and after the shooting. “As they reached [the alley behind Damond’s home], Officer Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad,” investigators said in a press release. “Immediately afterward [Damond] approached the driver’s side window of the squad. Harrity indicated that Officer Noor discharged his weapon, striking [Damond] through the open driver’s side window. “The officers immediately exited the squad and provided medical attention until medical personnel arrived,” the release added. “[Damond] was pronounced dead at the scene.” Officers Noor and Harrity — who have been on the force for 21 months and one year, respectively — have both been placed on standard administrative leave as authorities continue to piece together what happened. During his interview with investigators, Harrity claimed to have seen a white male, between the ages 18-25, bicycling towards Damond’s house immediately before the shooting. “This individual stopped at the scene and watched as the officers provided medical assistance to Ruszczyk,” investigators said. “BCA agents would like to speak with this person, and anyone else who may have witnessed the incident.” Crime scene personnel were said to have recovered a cell phone near Damond’s body, but no weapon. Investigators confirmed Tuesday that the officers’ body camera weren’t turned on until after the incident. Radio chatter from the shooting, which was published by the local website Minnesota PoliceClips, indicates that aerial fireworks may have been the cause of the “loud sound” that Harrity heard before the shooting. At one point in the audio, a dispatcher tells cops that someone reported hearing “two shots” to the east. In response, an officer says: “We heard those sounds from the station, those are probably aerial fireworks.” Damond’s death has sparked widespread outrage in both the US and Australia. On Tuesday, several Minneapolis police officers — who like Noor, are Somali-American — spoke anonymously to the Star-Tribune about fearing for their lives in the wake of the incident. “This is scaring our families,” explained one officer, who spoke on behalf of the group. “It’s difficult to deal with some media groups going to other Somali officers’ houses who are not involved in this shooting,” he said “It makes it hard to do this job when you’re worried about your family.”
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