BCA: Officer 'startled' by noise before partner fatally shot woman

Justine Ruszczyk
Justine Ruszczyk was shot and killed by Minneapolis police late Saturday night.
Courtesy Stephen Govel

Updated: 9:17 p.m. | Posted: 7 p.m.

After his partner was surprised by a loud noise, Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor shot from a squad car's passenger seat, through the open driver's side window late Saturday night, killing 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Tuesday.

The agency also gave the first public confirmation that Matthew Harrity was the other officer in the squad car. Noor has been with Minneapolis police for 21 months, Harrity for a year. Both officers are on standard administrative leave.

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Ruszczyk, who's also known as Justine Damond, called 911 at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday to report a possible assault near her home in south Minneapolis.

Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor
Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor
City of Minneapolis

Harrity and Noor responded to the call. They drove through an alley near Washburn and Xerxes avenues with all their car's lights off, the BCA said.

Harrity said he was "startled" by a sound coming from near their squad car, the BCA said. Right after, Ruszczyk reportedly came near the squad's driver's side window.

The BCA didn't make clear what — if anything else — happened before Noor fired his weapon, fatally striking Ruszczyk in the abdomen.

The cops got out of their car and gave medical attention right after the shooting, according to the agency.

Neither officer had their body camera activated, and the squad camera was also off. There appears to be no audio or video of the shooting.

At a press conference Tuesday night, city officials said the police department will review its body-camera policies.

A crowd gathers to remember Justine Damond.
A crowd gathers to remember Justine Ruszczyk
Jeff Wheeler | Star Tribune via AP

Investigators didn't find any weapons at the scene, only a cell phone near Ruszczyk, the BCA said.

The BCA says its agents interviewed Harrity on Tuesday. Noor has so far declined to interview with investigators. The BCA can't compel people to talk.

Harrity told BCA investigators that a young white man was bicycling near the scene before the shooting, and he apparently watched the officers give medical aid to Ruszczyk. The BCA says it wants to talk to him, and any other potential witnesses.

Mayor Hodges announced 911 call transcript release
Mayor Hodges spoke about 911 transcripts and body camera policy.
Peter Cox | MPR News

The city will make public the 911 call transcript, which wasn't ready as of late Tuesday night.

Ruszczyk was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner said a preliminary examination shows her cause of death was caused by a single gunshot to the abdomen, and it was a homicide.

Ruszczyk, originally from Australia, taught yoga and meditation. She was set to marry Don Damond in August.

Peter Cox contributed to this report.