By Chris Kenning
(Reuters) – A woman slapped the back of police squad car just before the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman in Minneapolis, according to newly released court documents.
The detail came in an application for a search warrant, made public Monday in court documents, from state investigators examining what led to the July 15 shooting of Sydney native Justine Damond, 40.
The fatal incident outraged the public in Australia and Minnesota, and led to the resignation of Minneapolis’ police chief. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the shooting “shocking” and “inexplicable.”
“Upon police arrival, a female ‘slaps’ the back of the patrol squad. After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley,” the court document reads. It does not say whether the woman who slapped the car was Damond.
Damond family attorney Robert Bennett could not be reached to comment on Tuesday. Previously, Bennett had said: “Usually people who call the police in their pajamas are not ambushers.”
One responding officer, Matthew Harrity, told investigators he was startled by a loud sound near the patrol car shortly before his partner, Mohamed Noor, fired through the open driver’s-side window, striking Damond.
Damond, who had made Minneapolis her home and was engaged to be married, had called police about a possible sexual assault in her neighborhood just before midnight. A cellphone was found near her body, according to the court documents.
Last week, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau resigned at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who lost confidence in the chief after the shooting.
Over the weekend, metal street signs mocking the police appeared in the city, reading “Warning: Twin Cities Police Easily Startled,” according to KARE-TV.
Noor’s lawyer, Tom Plunkett, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Noor has refused to be interviewed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting. Plunkett previously released a statement in which Noor expressed condolences to the Damond family, but declined to discuss the shooting.
Harrity’s attorney, Fred Bruno, could not be reached for comment. Bruno previously told the Star Tribune it was “certainly reasonable” for the officers to fear they could be the target of a possible ambush.
Police also on Monday released the officers’ partly redacted personnel files, which include records of employment and completed training, including weapons training. However, the files reveal little about job performance.
(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by David Gregorio)