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BCA: Officers Were 'Startled' By Noise Before Australian Woman's Shooting

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an Australian woman Saturday night declined to be interviewed by them.

The BCA says they did interview Officer Matthew Harrity on Tuesday, who said he and Officer Mohamed Noor responded to a report of a possible assault on the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue South at about 11:30 p.m.

Mohamed Noor
Officer Mohamed Noor (credit: Minneapolis Police Department)

Harrity, who was driving the squad car, says he was startled by a loud sound right before the victim -- 40-year-old Justine Damond -- approached his window.

Officer Noor, who was in the front passenger seat, then reached over Harrity and fired once at Damond, striking her in the torso. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Justine Damond
(credit: CBS)

Both officers did not have their body cameras activated, and their squad car's video and audio-recording system was not turned on.

The shooting of Damond, who was a yoga instructor and bride-to-be, has sparked international outrage.

Harrity told investigators that he saw a young white man on a bicycle right before the shooting. He also remained at the scene while the officers were giving Damond medical attention.

The BCA would like to talk to this witness, who Harrity says was between 18 and 25 years old. Witnesses are urged to call the BCA at 651-793-7000.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a press conference Tuesday night that the information released by the BCA brings everyone "closer to having answers" and "closer to having justice done." She also reiterated her frustration with the officers' disuse of body cameras.

Hodges said she wishes Noor would give a statement, because "he has a story to tell no one else can tell."

Also at the press conference was Assistant Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who said Chief Janee Harteau was taking some previously-scheduled time off. He said the department is eight months away from the full rollout of the body camera program.

"Even though we strive for perfection as an agency, we are not there yet," Arradondo said.

Arradondo also spoke on some of the department's other policies.

"One of the things we recently have done in terms of a change of our policy, our use of force policy, we've embedded the sanctity of life...because we believe at the end of the day everybody should go home," he said.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said the 911 call that preceded Damond's shooting is currently being transcribed and will be released after it is provided to Damond's family.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in an interview Tuesday that Damond's shooting death is "inexplicable."

"We are demanding answers on behalf of her family and our hearts go out to her family and all of her friends and loved ones," Turnbull said. "It is a truly tragic, tragic killing there in Minneapolis."

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