Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau has resigned at the request of the mayor, Betsy Hodges, who said she’d lost confidence in the city’s top cop in the wake of the shooting of Australian Justine Damond.
“I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further — and from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well,” Hodges said.
“I asked Chief Harteau for her resignation, she tendered it, and I have accepted it.”
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. She was due to marry American Don Damond next month.
Chief Harteau returned early from holidays and spoke for the first time about shooting, five days earlier, yesterday, saying it “should not have happened” and “Justine didn’t have to die”.
On Harteau’s watch, Minneapolis has been a key flashpoint for police shootings, most notably, Philando Castile, who was shot by an officer last year while sitting in driver’s seat of his car. He was pulled over for a broken taillight, volunteered to the officer that he had a firearm in the car and was shot seconds later. Castile’ girlfriend, in the passenger seat, live streamed his final moments.
The shooting was just one of several in the city that became the focus of protests and the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Activists have come out once again to protest Damond’s shooting.
Today chief Harteau said she had to put the community first.
“Last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other recent incidents, have caused me to engage in deep reflection,” she said.
“I’ve decided I am willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can.”
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) continues its investigation of the officer involved shooting on Saturday, July 15.
BCA agents have identified a witness to the incident seen bicycling on West 51st Street immediately before the shooting and stopped at the scene and watched as the officers provided medical assistance to Damond. He provided an interview today.
Officer Mohamed Noor has not provided a statement regarding the incident and has declined to be interviewed by BCA agents. Officer Noor’s attorney has not provided any update about when, if ever, an interview would be possible. Under the law, the BCA cannot compel the testimony of the officer.
Noor’s lawyer, Tom Plunkett, has denied reports that he called for laboratory tests to see if Justine Damond had any drugs In her system when she was killed saying it was not true and a “total misquote”.