Watch CBSN Live

911 transcripts released in police shooting that killed Justine Damond

New details on fatal shooting
New details on fatal shooting 01:55

MINNEAPOLIS -- An Australian woman who was shot to death by a Minneapolis police officer called 911 twice that night to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.

City officials released transcripts on Wednesday of the 911 calls that Justine Damond made Saturday night. Damond, a 40-year-old yoga and meditation instructor, was killed by a responding officer after she approached their squad car when it arrived.

Damond made her first call at 11:27 p.m., when she said she heard a possible sexual assault. Damond told the dispatcher she wasn't sure, but she thought a woman was in distress.

"Hi, I'm, I can hear someone out the back and I, I'm not sure if she's having sex or being raped," Damond told a dispatcher in the first call, according to the transcript.

Outrage over Aussie shot by police 03:22

Damond then gives the dispatcher her location.

"And I think she just yelled out 'help,' but it's difficult, the sound has been going on for a while, but I think, I don't think she's enjoying it. I think it's, I don't know," Damond says.

The dispatcher asks her if she's hearing a woman screaming, but can't see anything.

"Yeah. It sounds like sex noises, but it's been going on for a while and I think she tried to say help and it sounds distressed," Damond said.

Damond gives her phone number and her name to the dispatcher and is told help is on the way before she hangs up. Damond calls back eight minutes later, after no officers had arrived, and tells the dispatcher she's worried they went to the wrong address.

"Yup, officers are on the way there," the dispatcher says.

Minutes later, Damond was shot dead. Officer Michael Harrity, the partner of the officer who opened fire from the passenger seat of their squad car, said he was startled by a loud sound seconds before his partner fired his weapon. So far, the officer who fired – Mohamed Noor – has refused to be interviewed.

The 911 transcripts were released only after Damond's family was able to see them, reports CBS Minnesota.

Damond's death sparked anger and a demand for answers both in the city and in her home country, where the shooting has been front-page news for days.

Police shooting 02:34

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, said Damond approached the driver's side window of the squad car immediately after Harrity said he had been startled by the sound. Noor, in the passenger seat, shot Damond through the open driver's side window, the BCA said.

Harrity's lawyer told CBS Minnesota, "It is reasonable to assume an officer in that situation would be concerned about a possible ambush."

Harrity was interviewed Tuesday. The BCA said Noor's attorney didn't say when or if Noor would talk to investigators, and under the law an interview can't be compelled.

Noor's attorney didn't respond to messages from The Associated Press.

Harrity and Noor are on paid administrative leave. Harrity has been with the Minneapolis police department for one year, and Noor has been with the department for nearly two.

No weapon was found at the scene. The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and the squad car camera was also not activated.

Harrity told investigators that after the shooting, the officers got out of their vehicle and gave Damond immediate medical attention.

Harrity said that he and Noor saw a man, estimated to be between 18 and 25, bicycling in the area before the shooting. That man stopped and watched as officers attended to Damond. BCA agents are asking that man, and any other potential witnesses, to come forward.

The BCA said that unless more people come forward, there are no additional interviews scheduled.

David Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said police officers can't be compelled to testify in an outside investigation.

"Police officers are citizens... they have the same Fifth Amendment right as anyone. They don't have to give a statement," Klinger said. "His lawyer might be saying, you're not going to talk until I feel you're rested and not under stress."

Yoga teacher shot by police 02:33

In a news conference after the BCA's update, Mayor Betsy Hodges said she wished Noor would speak to investigators.

"It's frustrating to have some of the picture but not all of it," she said. "We cannot compel Officer Noor to make a statement. I wish we could. I wish that he would make a statement."

Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo said the department is reviewing its policy on body cameras and was doing so before Damond's death. Arradondo said the department is just eight months into a department-wide rollout, and the review includes focusing on how often officers activate them. He said the department wants to increase that frequency.

The BCA said forensic testing is being completed and evidence is still being examined. When the investigation is done, the BCA will present all its findings to prosecutors for possible charges.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gave an interview Wednesday to Australia's "Today" show, shortly before the release of details from the BCA's preliminary investigation, and joined the chorus demanding answers.

"How can a woman out in the street in her pajamas seeking assistance from police be shot like that? It is a shocking killing," Turnbull said.

In Damond's hometown of Sydney, about 300 people attended a silent vigil in her honor Wednesday morning at Freshwater Beach. Mourners threw pink flowers into the Pacific Ocean.

Records from the city's Office of Police Conduct Review show Noor has had three complaints against him. Two are pending, and the third was dismissed without discipline. Under state law, details of open cases and cases that result in no discipline are not released.

Noor was also sued earlier this year after a May 25 incident in which he and other officers took a woman to the hospital for an apparent mental health crisis. The lawsuit claims Noor and other officers violated the woman's rights when they entered her home without permission and Noor grabbed her wrist and upper arm. The lawsuit, which is pending, said Noor relaxed his grip when the woman said she had a previous shoulder injury.

Damond, who was planning to be married next month, was a meditation teacher and life coach. Her maiden name was Justine Ruszczyk, and though she was not yet married, she had already been using her fiance's last name.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue