MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 45-page, four-count civil lawsuit has been filed in Minneapolis Federal Court seeking $50 million in damages for the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
She was killed July 15, 2017, by a Minneapolis police officer as she walked up to his squad car behind her south Minneapolis home after reporting a possible sexual assault near the alley.
“It’s beyond belief that she was a threat,” states Ruszczyk family attorney, Robert Bennett.
The suit is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages from the city, and officers Mohamed Noor and Matthew Harrity, for the killing. Officers that Bennett says were unexperienced and unfit for duty.
“They shouldn’t be police officers with guns, go do something else. Not be police officers with guns in the Fulton neighborhood,” Bennett said.
Press Conference: Attorney Robert Bennett Speaks About The Suit
The civil suit also holds the city of Minneapolis, former police chief Janee’ Harteau and current chief Medaria Arradondo responsible. It claims the department leaders lacked proper command over the officers, and allowed lax adherence to department policies.
According to the suit, “the MPD’s continued failure to discipline officers causes MPD officers to act with impunity.”
Bennett says the lack of body camera evidence in this case, which both officers failed to activate, “deprived investigators and jurors of the digital audio-video evidence the officers were mandated to obtain.”
“When they find out about it nobody gets disciplined, nothing changes,” Bennett said.
The suit also alleges that Noor and Harrity conspired to conceal evidence by deliberately not activating body cameras, Noor’s refusal to speak to investigators and Harrity’s altering of his initial recollection of facts.
Bennett’s ire is also directed at a number of other Minneapolis police officers who he says were uncooperative.
“There is a blue wall of silence at play,” adding, “You have up to 40 officers who don’t cooperate with prosecutors. That’s unheard of,” said Bennett.
When reached for comment, Minneapolis Police Federation president Bob Kroll called Bennett’s claim, “a complete myth.”