Concerns about former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor’s fitness for duty began prior to him being hired.
Minneapolis, MN – Field training officers and two psychiatrists raised concerns about former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor’s fitness to serve the community for more than two years before he fatally shot Justine Damond in July of 2017, court documents showed.
Damond, 40, called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home.
The then ran outside to speak with the Officer Noor, 32, and his partner as they started to leave the area.
As she approached their patrol vehicle, Officer Noor shot from the passenger seat, across his partner, hitting Damond at the driver’s side window.
Information regarding early concerns about the former officer’s fitness for duty came to light on Wednesday, after Noor’s attorney filed a motion seeking the dismissal of the murder and manslaughter charges filed against Noor in the wake of Damond’s death, FOX News reported.
In their response, Hennepin County prosecutors filed documents pertaining to Noor’s early 2015 pre-hiring evaluations, during which two psychiatrists expressed concerns that he was unable to handle the stress of police work and was unwilling to deal with people, the Star Tribune reported.
The evaluators also noted that, in comparison to other recruits, Noor was more likely to become impatient over minor infractions, to be more demanding, to struggle getting along with others, and to have a limited network of social support.
According to the evaluation, Noor “reported disliking people and being around them,” but didn’t meet diagnostic criteria for mental illness, chemical dependency, or a personality disorder, the Star Tribune reported.
As such, Noor was deemed as “psychiatrically fit to work as a cadet police officer for the Minneapolis Police Department,” the prosecution’s filing read.
A civilian human resources employee reviewed the psychiatric report and contacted the psychiatrist about the seemingly conflicting information it contained, but was told that the evaluator stood by his recommendation, the Star Tribune reported.
Officer Noor’s behavior on the street soon raised red flags, as well.
On Apr. 8, 2016, a field training officer reported that Officer Noor was avoiding calls, and that he preferred to drive in circles while ignoring calls that he could have assigned himself to, KARE reported.
The requests for service were simple – such as checking on a suspicious vehicle and addressing a road hazard, the field training officer noted.
Court documents also referenced dashcam footage of a May 18, 2017 traffic stop that showed Officer Noor as he approached the driver to address a minor traffic violation, the Star Tribune reported.
According to a police report, Officer Noor had witnessed the driver making a vulgar hand gesture towards a bicyclist before the driver passed another vehicle on the right while failing to signal.
“When the defendant approached the driver’s side of the stopped car, the first thing he did was point his gun at the driver’s head,” the filing read.
Officer Noor and his partner did not “document their display of force or any justification for it,” and the failure to signal citation was ultimately dismissed after Officer Noor failed to show up for the court hearing.
Two months later, on July 15, 2017, Officer Noor and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, responded to Damond’s report of a possible assault in the alley behind her home, the Star Tribune reported.
With Officer Noor in the passenger seat, Officer Harrity pulled into the alleyway with the patrol car’s headlights deactivated, and removed the safety hood from the holster of his duty weapon.
Officer Harrity said that he heard a dog barking as he neared Damond’s home, and that he slowed the vehicle to two miles per hour, but never stopped.
Approximately two minutes later, the officers approached the end of the alley, and waited for a bicyclist to pass as they cleared from the call.
Officer Harrity said that moments later, he heard a voice and a thump towards the rear of the patrol car, and then “caught a glimpse of a person’s head and shoulders outside his window.”
He said that the person, later identified as Damond, was approximately two feet away, and that he could not see her hands, and did not know if she had any weapons.
The startled officer recalled having said, “Oh s–t,” or “Oh Jesus,” and grabbed for his duty weapon, believing his life was in danger. He said he drew the weapon and held it to his rib cage, pointed downwards.
Officer Harrity said that he then heard a noise “that sounded like a light bulb dropping on the floor, and saw a flash.”
After checking to see if he had been shot, Officer Harrity said he realized that Officer Noor’s right arm was extended towards him, and that Damon was standing outside the driver’s side window with her hands on the left side of her abdomen, covering a gunshot wound.
She said, “‘I’m dying,’ or ‘I’m dead,’” according to the court documents.
Officer Harrity rushed to her aid, and told Officer Noor to re-holster his weapon and to activate his bodycam.
He initiated CPR, and Officer Noor eventually took over. Damond died at the scene.
Noor’s employment with the Minneapolis Police Department was terminated following his arrest.
Noor was charged with third-degree murder “perpetrating eminently dangerous act and evincing depraved mind,” and second-degree manslaughter “culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk” in Hennepin County District Court on March 20, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Damond’s family has also filed a $50 million wrongful death suit, accusing Noor and Officer Harrity of conspiring to hide evidence by not activating their bodycams during the fatal encounter, the Star Tribune reported.
The lawsuit alleged that cameras would have contained “evidence that would incriminate Noor, evidence that would expose the false statements of Harrity, and evidence that would show the public and the jurors in both the criminal and civil trials the truth of the circumstances of Justine’s death.”
It also claimed that failure of officers to activate bodycams was common in the department, and said the officers in Damond’s case failed to activate their bodycams “knowing that evidence needed to convict a police officer would be lost. … Noor and Harrity did so to protect themselves — to insulate any lies they might later tell.”
The lawsuit also named former Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, current Police Chief Medaria Arrandondo, and the city of Minneapolis, FOX News reported.