MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Justine Damond’s family in Australia and in Minneapolis have hired a top Twin Cities attorney who also represented the family of Philando Castile.
Attorney Bob Bennett says he was hired because Justine’s family wants justice, including changes in police protocols. Bennett says Justine Damond’s loved ones here and in Australia are understandably devastated.
He says that family in Australia, where gun violence and police shootings are rare, are in disbelief how this could have happened.
“This is an unbelievable situation that a person who called 911 is shot in her pajamas,” Bennett said.
Bennett, who has handled many high profile police shooting cases, says the shooting of Justine Damond stands apart.
“She obviously was not armed, she was not a threat to anyone nor could she have reasonably been perceived to be,” he said.
Bennett says Saturday night, Damond was awoken by loud sounds in the alley behind her house that sounded like a possible rape. Bennett said she called her fiancé Dan, who was out of town, twice about those sounds.
“She reheard them again and called him again and he recommended that she call 911,” Bennett said.
Damond did call 911, and Officers Michael Harrity and Mohamed Noor responded. Officer Harrity told the BCA as they drove down the alley they were startled by a loud sound, and that almost immediately Officer Noor fired across his chest through the open window, which Damond had just approached.
The medical examiner ruled the one shot fired by Noor into Justine Damond’s abdomen killed her. Fred Bruno, the attorney representing Officer Harrity said, “It is reasonable to assume an officer in that situation would be concerned about a possible ambush.”
Bennett says the ambush claim is absurd.
“I think that is ludicrous, that is disinformation. It doesn’t have any basis in fact,” Bennett said.
Bennett says after the conclusion of the criminal investigation, the Damond family here and in Australia may consider a civil suit. But he said there are non-monetary issues the family wants.
He says the family wants changes in police protocols about when body cameras are turned on, they want better training for officers and he says they do not believe Officer Noor should be an officer.