Justine Damond; Mohamed Noor (Facebook/Justine Ruszczyk/AP)

Justine Damond's death: Will race play a role in the investigation into this fatal police shooting?

When white cops kill black people, protests erupt but nothing changes. What happens when racial roles are reversed?

D. Watkins
July 19, 2017 4:00PM (UTC)

And it happens again to another citizen. This time it’s Justine Damond, a 40-year-old woman in Minnesota. According to the Star Tribune, Damond called to report a possible assault in the back of her of home. Two police officers responded to the call and pulled up into the alley, where they spoke with Damond, according to the newspaper's sources. Then one officer, identified as Mohamed Noor, pulled out his gun and fired through the driver’s side door, striking Damond. She died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen; the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension spokesperson said there were no other weapons found on the scene.

The reason for the shooting has yet to be released to the public; however, we do know that the officers' body cams were turned off and surveillance of the incident does not exist. Tom Plunkett, Noor’s attorney, released the following statement:


Officer Noor extends his condolences to the family and anyone else who has been touched by this event. He takes their loss seriously and keeps them in his daily thoughts and prayers.

He came to the United States at a young age and is thankful to have had so many opportunities. He takes these events very seriously because, for him, being a police officer is a calling. He joined the police force to serve the community and to protect the people he serves. Officer Noor is a caring person with a family he loves and he empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.

The current environment for police is difficult, but Officer Noor accepts this as part of his calling. We would like to say more, and will in the future. At this time, however, there are several investigations ongoing and Officer Noor wants to respect the privacy to the family and asks the same in return during this difficult period.

Damond was a licensed yoga instructor from Sydney, Australia, who was set to be married next month. Her stepson Zack Damond took to Facebook with a message after his family's horrible tragedy.

“Basically, my mom’s dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know,” he said in a video. “I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I’m so done with all this violence.”

There’s a never-ending list of African Americans who have lost their lives due to poor police training in the past few years but rarely does this happen to a white woman. Protests broke out on every end of the country after police officers killed Michael Brown, Walter Scott and Eric Garner, all cases where a no white cops were held accountable for their involvement in the deaths of unarmed black people. This is the exact opposite. Will race play a role in the future of Mohamed Noor?


On Monday, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau commented on what he called a "tragic death."

I want to acknowledge the pain and frustration that family and community members have following the fatal officer involved shooting on Saturday night. This is clearly a tragic death.

I also want to assure you that I understand why so many people have so many questions at this point. I have many of the same questions and it is why we immediately asked for an external and independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting death. I've asked for the investigation to be expedited to provide transparency and to answer as many questions as quickly as we can.

I believe that all victims of police violence should and do stand in solidarity with the Damond family. If we find that she was unarmed and innocent, then she deserves justice. Let’s hope the system doesn’t fail her family, too.

D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project. Watkins is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America” and "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir." His latest book, "We Speak For Ourselves: A Word From Forgotten Black America," is out now.

MORE FROM D. WatkinsFOLLOW @dwatkinsworld

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Justine Damond Minneapolis Mohamed Noor Police Brutality Race Racism

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