'Justine did not have to die' says Minneapolis police chief

Minneapolis Police Chief, Janee Harteau in 2015, speaking to protesters following the shooting death of Jamar Clark by a Minneapolis police officer. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images.

The Minneapolis police chief has offered a public rebuke of the officer who shot expatriate Australian Justine Damond on Saturday night, saying it “should not have happened”.

Police boss Janee Harteau spoke for the first time today after returning early from leave, saying “Justine didn’t have to die”.

Based on the current information, “this should not have happened,” she said.

“On our squad cars you will find the words, ‘To protect with courage and serve with compassion’. This did not happen.”

The Australian was shot by officer Mohamed Noor just minutes after police responded to her 911 call about a suspected sexual assault in the alleyway behind her home in Minneapolis.

Damond, 40, died at the scene. She was in her pyjamas, unarmed and talking to the two police in their car when the fatal shot was fired.

Officers Matthew Harrity, who was driving, told investigators they were startled by a loud sound after arriving on the scene. Noor has declined to be interviewed.

The police chief’s comments seem to distance her department from Noor.

“I believe the actions in question go against who we are as a department, how we train and the expectations we have for our officers,” Harteau said.

“These were the actions and judgement of one individual.

“I want to assure Justine’s family, our community and those in Australia that I will do everything in my power to ensure due process is followed and justice is served.”

Harteau said she spoke to Don Damond, who was set to marry Justine next month, and apologised for her death.

“I cannot imagination the impact this has had on Justine’s family,” she said.

Cameras on the officers and in the car were not switched on and the police chief said the body cameras should have been activated.

“We want to do everything we can in training and in policy to ensure that they’re put on before an officer arrives at the scene, because one can never predict when something is going to happen,” she said.

The investigation into the shooting, which has been declared a homicide, is ongoing.

You can watch Harteau’s statement below

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