CRIME AND CRIMINALS: MURDER HOMICIDE :
POLICE BRUTALITY :
COUNTRIES: UNITED STATES, AUSTRALIA:
Minneapolis Police Shot an Unarmed Woman in Her Pajamas.
They Haven't Explained Why.
The officers had body cameras when they shot Justine Damond but didnt
turn them on.
A shorter URL for the above link:
It has been several days since a police officer in Minneapolis shot a
40-year-old woman in the alley behind her house. Since then, weve learned
little about what happened.
Heres what we do know: On Saturday night, local police responded to a 911
call about a possible assault in an alley behind the home of Justine
Damond, who worked as a yoga and meditation instructor. According to the
Minneapolis Star Tribune, officers pulled in to the alley, and Damond,
still in her pajamas, approached the drivers side door. At some point, the
officer in the passengers seat shot and killed Damond. There were no
weapons found at the scene, meaning Damond was unarmed.
The attorney representing the officer who shot and killed Damond later
identified him as Mohamed Noor, who reportedly joined the Minneapolis
police force in 2015.
Thats all we know so far. We havent heard the 911 call that prompted
police to go to Damonds house, and we dont have an explanation for why the
officer opened fire. The officers body cameras werent on during the
shooting, and the police cars camera apparently didnt capture the
The shooting has quickly received international attention, because Damond
is from Australia and was set to be married soon. Damonds family in
Australia is now demanding a federal investigation into the shooting.
The shooting is under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal
Apprehension (BCA). The officer, who hasnt been officially identified, was
put on paid administrative leave, as is standard after a shooting.
The BCA said it will release more information on the shooting once initial
interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete.
In a statement on Monday, Minneapolis Police Chief JaneHarteau said shes
asked for the investigation to be expedited to provide transparency and to
answer as many questions as quickly as we can.
The shooting raises several questions: Why werent the officers body
cameras on? Why has so little information about the shooting been
released? And especially due to the international attention, why is it
that American police seem to resort to force more often than law
enforcement officers in other developed countries around the world?
Police didnt have their body cameras on when they shot Damond
The simplest explanation for why we know so little about the shooting:
Police didnt have their body cameras on when an officer opened fire.
This gets to one of the major ongoing problems with the devices as more
and more police departments adopt them. While cameras are meant to hold
police accountable, it is ultimately the police who control when the
cameras turn on. That makes it possible for cops, on purpose or not, to
effectively cover up an act of bad policing.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the officers failure to
turn on their cameras violates Minneapolis police policy, which has been
in place for body cameras since at least 2016.
In particular, policy 4-223 says that officers should manually activate
their cameras prior to any use of force. If a [body-worn camera] is not
activated prior to a use of force, it shall be activated as soon as it is
safe to do so. It also says that officers should turn on their cameras
during any contact involving criminal activity, any contact that is, or
becomes adversarial, and any citizen contact. All of these rules indicate
that the cameras should have been rolling even before police shot Damond.
But its one thing to have these rules on their books and another to get
officers to actually follow them. The ACLU of Minnesota, for its part, on
Monday called for Minneapolis police to add potential penalties for
failing to follow the policy to ensure better compliance and
ADDITIONAL TOPICS COVERED IN THIS ARTICLE
American police use force more often than police in other developed
Police only have to reasonably perceive a threat to justify shooting
Police are rarely prosecuted for shootings
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis police policy
Washington Posts database
Australia, Japan, and Germany, where police officers might go an entire
year without killing more than a dozen people or even anyone at all.
An analysis by the Guardian found that US police kill more in days than
other countries do in years.
As data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
shows, the US homicide rate throughout the 2000s was more than three times
the rate of Canada, four times that of the UK, and more than 10 times that
The research bears this out: More guns lead to more gun violence. And for
police in particular, one study found that every 10 percent increase in
firearm ownership correlated with 10 additional officers killed at the
state level over a 15-year period.
In the 1980s, a pair of Supreme Court decisions Tennessee v. Garner and
Graham v. Connor set up a framework for determining when deadly force by
cops is reasonable.
Ronald Davis, a former police chief who previously headed the Justice
Departments Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, told the
Police are very rarely prosecuted for shootings
David Rudovsky, a civil rights lawyer who co-wrote Prosecuting
Misconduct: Law and Litigation, previously told Amanda Taub for Vox.
The National Police Misconduct Reporting Project
The complete article may be read at the URL at the top of this post.
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