Homicide

Somali immigrant cop Mohamed Noor, who shot Justine Damond, was 'highly celebrated' by Minneapolis mayor in 2015

The Somali-born Minnesota police officer alleged to have shot and killed an unarmed Australian woman on Saturday had been lauded by Minneapolis’ mayor and feted by the local community when he joined the force in 2015.

“I want to take a moment to recognize Officer Mohamed Noor, the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department,” Mayor Betsy Hodges wrote in a Facebook post when Noor began serving the city. “Officer Noor has been assigned to the 5th Precinct, where his arrival has been highly celebrated, particularly by the Somali community in and around Karmel Mall.”

In fact, The Washington Post reported that community threw a party for Noor – the first Somali-American officer to serve in the precinct. Minneapolis is home to one of the nation's largest Somali communities.

“He came to the United States at a young age and is thankful to have had so many opportunities,” Thomas Plunkett, Noor’s attorney, said Monday. “…For him, being a police officer is a calling.”

Abdikadir Hassan, a local community leader, told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that Noor was a role model.

“He is inspiring to young people in the community,” Hassan said. “He is very supportive and good with the kids. He is such a lovely guy.”

Noor, 31, attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis and earned a degree in business administration, management and economics, The Star Tribune reported.

But despite reportedly viewing the police force as his “calling,” Noor took a winding road to the department’s door. He first had jobs in residential property management and as the general manager of a hotel, according to The Star Tribune.

In his short time with the Minneapolis Police, Noor has had three complaints filed against him – two that are still open. The other was closed and Noor wasn’t disciplined.

On May 25, a woman accused Noor of assault and battery because he “grabbed her right wrist and upper arm” and inflamed a pre-existing shoulder injury while officers were forcibly removing her from her home and bringing her to a hospital.

Noor, who spoke Somali at home, divorced his wife in December, but documents obtained by The Star Tribune also suggest he was a workaholic.

An evaluator was reportedly sent to observe Noor and his son together for an unspecified reason and concluded Noor had an “even keel and calm demeanor.”

But questions continue to surround Noor’s alleged actions on Saturday night.

Justine Damond called police to report a possible crime occurring near her house. Officers arrived, and Noor, at some point, and for an as yet unknown reason, allegedly fired his gun, striking Damond in the abdomen and ultimately killing her.

When she was shot, Damond was standing, in her pajamas, talking to an officer on the driver's side of the squad car. Noor, in the passenger's seat, allegedly fired, shooting Damond through the driver's side door, three sources with knowledge of the incident told The Star Tribune.

Noor did not activate his body camera – as required by the department in all use-of-force scenarios – and his patrol car’s dashcam did not capture the pivotal moments, either.