THE partner of the police officer who shot and killed Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk Damond was “stunned” when his colleague opened fire on the bride-to-be, local media has reported.
The second Minneapolis police officer who responded to the 40-year-old’s 911 call has been identified as Matthew Harrity.
Mr Harrity’s lawyer Fred Bruno confirmed his client was driving the squad car that was sent to the alleyway behind Ms Damond’s home, and officer Mohamed Noor, who shot the Sydney woman, was in the passenger seat.
It is believed Noor reached across Harrity and while seated fired several shots out the window at Ms Damond when she approached the vehicle.
A police source told KARE11 Harrity was “stunned” when his partner opened fire, the Minneapolis news station reported.
Both men have been put on “paid administrative leave” by the police department after the Saturday night incident.
Officer Harrity, it has been revealed, had only been on the job for a year and his partner, Noor, had only two years experience as a police officer.
Noor was already being sued over an excessive force complaint, filed to the US District Court only three weeks before Ms Damond’s shooting.
Her death has been ruled a homicide.
Ms Damond’s grieving family has been damning of police over their handling of the shock incident.
Her frustrated husband-to-be Don Damond yesterday told media he had been given few details from authorities about why his fiancee was fatally shot.
“Sadly, her family and I have ben provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived,” he told reporters outside his home near where Ms Damond was gunned down.
Questions have also been raised over why the officers’ body-worn cameras weren’t turned on before the shooting. Their failure to record the incident is an apparent violation of the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy.
Rules laid out in the Minneapolis Police Department’s Policy & Procedure Manual specify that body worn cameras (BWC) are to be activated by police “prior to any use of force”.
If the BWC has not been activated, it must be activated “as soon as it is safe to do so”.
The manual states: “If there is a failure to activate the BWC in any of the above situations, the Officer shall document the reasons for the failure in the Officer’s report or supplement.”
Minneapolis police vehicles equipped with “mobile video recording equipment” in order to “capture video for criminal, civil and traffic-related court cases”.
While the department has acknowledged cameras did not capture the incident, it is unknown whether cameras were not functioning properly, if they were working but had been switched off, or if the officers involved intentionally or unintentionally failed to activate them.
The department’s internal affairs process will determine whether a law enforcement agency policy was broken, the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has said.
Ms Damond’s family both in the US and in Australia have said they are desperate for answers.
A dawn vigil has been held at Sydney’s Freshwater Beach where people gathered to pay tribute to Ms Damond and support her family.
The crowd, led by Ms Damond’s father John Ruszczyk, paid silent tribute to the passionate yoga and meditation teacher and life coach, who was originally from the area.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has this morning committed to seek answers for the family.
“This is a shocking killing. It is inexplicable,” he told the Nine Network.
“How can a woman out in the street in her pyjamas, seeking assistance from police be shot like that? It is a shocking killing, and we are demanding answers on behalf of her family.”