Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Minneapolis Police Shooting

This article first appeared in Eagle Rising.

The most recent police shooting-this time in Minneapolis- is now getting national attention though the full story is not being fully told by certain media. The facts are these: Justine Damond, an Australian woman, engaged to be married shortly to an American, had called police around 11:30 Saturday night to report a possible sexual assault going on in an alley near her home. The police arrived-two officers in a squad car. The woman went up to the driver's side of the cruiser to tell the officers what was going on. At that point, the passenger cop drew his weapon and, firing across his partner in the driver's seat, shot the woman, who died.

This is not a case where the Black Lives Matter crew will turn out to protest. The victim was white. The officer was black. Not only that-and  this is what you may not have heard- the officer, Mohamed Noor, is a Somali immigrant. His hiring was much bally-hooed by the city a few years ago: the first Somali immigrant to be a Minneapolis policemen.  Is this pertinent to the case at hand?

While some media are playing down the fact that Noor is a Somali and a Muslim, others are paying close attention.

As of right now, we don't know what it was that caused Noor to shoot the woman. Did her sudden rush up to the car startle him? Did he think the woman was a threat? Apparently, Noor is not talking at this point.

Being retired from law enforcement, I am naturally not so quick to condemn cops  who are involved in questionable shootings. It is best to let the investigation play out and withhold judgment until the truth is known. Call it bias if you will, and this is clearly a questionable shooting at best. The woman was not a suspect and posed no threat. For a cop to be sitting in a car and shoot across his partner is unheard of, but if a suspect was drawing a gun at the driver's side, I guess there would be an explanation for firing. What I want to know is what his partner has to say. Did he feel a threat in any way?

We also now hear that Officer Noor has been the subject of previous complaints by members of the public.

I know there are some out there who are claiming that Noor should have never been hired, and that this could be a case of  sudden jihad syndrome. Perhaps, his Muslim sensitivities were offended by a woman on the street in her pajamas. Who knows at this point? If something like that turns out to be the case, I will be all over it saying, "here we go again".

If I want to be consistent, however, I need to treat this like I do other police shootings. I cannot jump to conclusions just because Noor is a Somali and a Muslim. Nor can I stand by him to the end because he is a cop.

This woman, it is safe to say, should not have been shot. She was an innocent citizen trying to report a possible crime. At best, Noor made a judgmental error, one that cost an innocent person her life. Once, as a DEA agent in the 1970s, I almost made a similar error that could have resulted in an innocent bystander being shot as a drug bust was going down. Thank God I did not pull the trigger.

I will withhold judgment for now, but we should follow this case closely. Noor's motive for firing his weapon in this situation needs to be brought out.


Squid said...

Gary, the woman was unarmed and did not have a gun. What was the threat to life, that this Officer felt he had to use deadly force. In my experience, one does not shoot an unarmed person. This Officer was a problem from the beginning and his problems were hidden due to the PD pride mission that they had a Somali as a cop. I can see the civil lawsuits starting now.


Gary Fouse said...

Of course, and the city will make a settlement. The officer will be fired for his bad decision. The question is will the investigation go deeper into his motivation. There is the possibility that the sight of this woman in her pajamas on the street set off a sudden jihad syndrome. I'm not making that accusation, but it needs to be checked out.