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Judge OKs search warrant for officers' phones in Mpls. shooting investigation

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

A judge has approved a search warrant for investigators to examine the smartphones of two Minneapolis police officers in the fatal shooting of an Australian woman who had called police for help.

The search warrant application was filed Thursday by an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The agent requested permission to download data from the iPhones issued by the Minneapolis Police Department.

The application states that the information "may more clearly define" the officers' actions before and after Justine Ruszczyk, also known as Justine Damond, was killed on July 15. Investigators have said Officer Mohamed Noor shot the 40-year-old woman after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home.

Noor's partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, told investigators a noise startled him just before Ruszczyk approached their police SUV. Noor was in the passenger seat and shot Ruszczyk through the open driver-side window. Noor has declined to be interviewed by investigators and cannot be compelled to do so.

The two officers had not activated their body cameras. Minneapolis police officers are now required to have those cameras on when they respond to calls or make traffic stops.

A memorial service for Ruszczyk is scheduled for Friday night near her home in southwest Minneapolis. Her fiance, Don Damond, and her father, John Ruszczyk, are among those scheduled to speak at the memorial at Lake Harriet. A Native American spiritual burning of sage will precede the service, and attendees have been encouraged to wear blue, one of her favorite colors. The memorial will end with a silent walk around the lake.

Her family also has set up the Justine Damond Social Justice Fund, which will support causes important to her, including those promoting equal treatment for all.

Ruszczyk's death led to a shake-up at the top of the Minneapolis Police Department. Police Chief Janee Harteau resigned at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said the department needed new leadership. Hodges nominated Medaria Arradondo, who had been assistant chief, to become chief. This week a Minneapolis City Council committee unanimously endorsed Arradondo's nomination.