Justine Damond’s Family Suing Minneapolis and Police Officers Over Her Fatal Shooting

The family of an Australian woman shot dead by a police officer outside her home in Minneapolis is suing the city and several officers for violating her civil rights.

Justine Damond Ruszczyk, 40, was shot last year after calling police to report a suspected crime near her home.

The July 2017 incident sparked international outrage, coming amid a wave of US police shootings that drove a debate over the use of excessive force by law enforcement.

Ex-Minneapolis Police Department officer Mohamed Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for shooting Ms Damond through the door of his patrol car as she approached him after calling police to say she thought she had heard a woman being raped.

Mr Noor was fired the day the charges were filed and is free on $541,000 bail ahead of trial.

His lawyers have said he will plead not guilty at trial and will argue he used reasonable force in the fatal incident.

Prosecutors say there is no evidence Mr Noor encountered a threat that justified the use of deadly force.

Mr Noor has refused to speak with investigators, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

The civil suit, which was filed in federal district court in Minnesota, names Mr Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity, and accuses them of conspiring to conceal the facts around the shooting of Ms Damond and failing to record the incident on their body cameras.

“Had they done so, there would be video and audio recording of the fatal shooting of Justine, and Harrity and Noor would not be free to concoct a story in a vain attempt to insulate Noor from civil and criminal liability,” the lawsuit says.

The suit also referenced their age — Mr Noor was 32, Mr Harrity was 25 — and called them “inexperienced officers who appear, by their conduct, unfit for duty”.

The suit also names the city of Minneapolis and its current and former police chiefs as defendants.

It also alleges the Minneapolis Police Department failed to discipline officers who did not use body cameras, and said a change in the way job candidates were screened put dangerously unqualified officers on the street.

What we know about the shooting

What we know about Australian Justine Damond, the police shooting that took her life and the officer who fired the fatal shot.
City officials declined immediate comment and lawyers for Mr Noor and Ms Harrity did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Ms Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, seeks more than $67 million in damages for four claims.

The family’s lawyer, Bob Bennett, reached a nearly $4.06 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed after police shot and killed black motorist Philando Castile of St. Paul, Minnesota, during a traffic stop in July 2016.

In Ms Damond’s case, Mr Harrity, who was driving the police car, said he was startled by a loud sound and both officers “got spooked” when Ms Damond appeared, prosecutors said.

Among those expressing outrage over Ms Damond’s shooting was Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called it “inexplicable.”

After the shooting, Minneapolis officials said procedures had been violated and Ms Damond “didn’t have to die”.

Why was Justine shot dead?

Justine Damond Ruszczyk was shot dead by a police officer while unarmed and wearing her pyjamas. Her loved ones open up for the first time about their determination to seek justice.
According to the lawsuit, at the time Mr Noor and Mr Harrity were hired, the city used only one psychological test to determine whether candidates were fit to be on the street, down from five tests in use prior to 2012.

It said the city failed to ascertain whether hundreds of officers were actually fit for duty.

“The consequence is that certain MPD officers are ill-prepared, ill-equipped and unfit to perform obvious and recurring duties of police officers, including the use of force and the use of deadly force,” the lawsuit said.

“Here, it led to the fatal shooting of Justine who stood unarmed, in her pyjamas, and ready to help others.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-24/justine-damond-family-suing-minneapolis-police-officer-shooting/10028340