Police chief in US city quits after fatal shooting

Ms Damond died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen fired through the open window of a police car. Mr Don Damond, the fiance of shooting victim Justine Damond, being comforted outside his home in Minneapolis by Ms Valerie Castile, whose son Phi
Mr Don Damond, the fiance of shooting victim Justine Damond, being comforted outside his home in Minneapolis by Ms Valerie Castile, whose son Philando was fatally shot in June last year after his vehicle was pulled over by police. His death sparked protests, just like in Ms Damond's case.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Ms Damond died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen fired through the open window of a police car. Mr Don Damond, the fiance of shooting victim Justine Damond, being comforted outside his home in Minneapolis by Ms Valerie Castile, whose son Phi
Ms Damond died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen fired through the open window of a police car. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Unarmed Australian woman was gunned down by officer on patrol in Minneapolis

NEW YORK • Minneapolis police department chief Janee Harteau resigned at the request of the city's mayor, who said that she and the community had lost confidence in Ms Harteau following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman.

The death of Sydney native Justine Damond, 40, from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen fired through the open window of a police patrol car, has outraged her family members and the Australian public. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called it "shocking" and "inexplicable".

Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a written statement that she and Ms Harteau agreed on Friday that Ms Harteau would step aside.

"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 that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well," Ms Hodges said in the statement.

A press conference Ms Hodges called to discuss the personnel change was interrupted by a group of protesters calling for her to resign, a witness video posted on YouTube showed.

"We don't want you as our mayor of Minneapolis any more," a male protester in the video yelled as Ms Hodges nodded slowly and tried repeatedly to resume her remarks but was drowned out. "Your leadership has been very ineffective. Your police department has terrorised us enough," he said.

Ms Damond, who was living in Minneapolis and engaged to be married, had called the police about a possible sexual assault in her neighbourhood just before midnight last Saturday.

She was shot as she approached the driver's side of officers Mohamed Noor and Matthew Harrity's patrol car.

Ms Harteau's resignation came a day after she told reporters during her first news conference following Ms Damond's death that the shooting violated department training and procedures and that the victim "didn't have to die".

"Last Saturday's tragedy, as well as some other recent incidents, have caused me to engage in deep reflection," she said in a statement.

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Mr Harrity told investigators that Ms Damond approached the police car immediately after he was startled by a loud noise and that Mr Noor, who was in the passenger seat, fired his weapon through the open driver's side window, striking Ms Damond.

Mr Noor has refused to be interviewed by the agency, which is conducting the investigation.

The police department said on Friday that bureau investigators had interviewed a person who was cycling in the area immediately before the shooting and watched as the officers provided medical assistance to Ms Damond. No further details were provided.

Ms Hodges said assistant chief Medaria Arradondo would become police chief, and the department's website on Friday evening had been updated to reflect it.

Ms Harteau, a 30-year veteran of the department, was the first woman to lead it, and is Native American and openly gay.

She was criticised for the department's handling of the fatal 2015 shooting of 24-year-old unarmed black man named Jamar Clark.

The shooting of Mr Clark touched off protests in Minneapolis at a time of fierce national debate over the use of excessive force by the police, especially against black people.

Hundreds of people also took to the streets of Minneapolis to protest Ms Damond's shooting.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 23, 2017, with the headline 'Police chief in US city quits after fatal shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe