Family of Minneapolis Woman Fatally Shot by Cops Files Federal Lawsuit


In July 2017, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Justine Damond, a 40-year-old Australian native and yoga instructor who had called 911 to report overhearing a sexual assault. Earlier this year, the officer, Mohamed Noor, was charged with murder and manslaughter; now, Damond’s family is suing Noor, his partner, key members of the Minneapolis Police Department, and the city for her death.

The New York Times reports that the family of Damond, real name Justine Maia Ruszczyk, filed a federal lawsuit on Monday seeking $50 million in damages from the above parties. Her family says they hope the suit will push the Minneapolis Police Department to consider reforms that would have saved Damond’s life, like mandated body cameras, which Noor and partner Matthew Harrity were wearing but did not turn on when Noor shot Damond, according to the suit. Noor and Harrity had pulled into Damond’s back alley without engaging their emergency lights, and when Damond, wearing her pajamas, rushed out to greet them, Noor shot her.

“We want the Minneapolis police culture to be reformed in such a way and to the extent necessary to stop such senseless acts from happening again and again,” Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, wrote in a written statement accompanying the suit. “Justine died in her pajamas trying to help someone else. We cannot let her death be in vain.”

Noor didn’t even bother to leave his police vehicle to shoot Damond, and instead ended her life through the car window after he was allegedly “startled by a loud sound,” according to Noor’s and Harrity’s testimony. Noor was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in March, according to the New York Times. He was also removed from the force. Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau, who is also named in the suit, resigned shortly after Damond was killed.

Diamond’s death followed two other high-profile police shootings in the Minneapolis area—that of Philando Castile, in the summer of 2016, and Jamar Clark in the fall of 2015. Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who shot at Castile several times in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter, was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter last year and was offered $48,500 to leave the force.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin