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US officer charged with murder of Australian Justine Damond

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Australian life coach Justine Damond put her hands on the bullet wound on the left side of her stomach and said “I’m dying” just moments after a Minneapolis police officer shot her, according to the prosecutor who announced murder and manslaughter charges against Mohamed Noor.

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Noor turned himself in to Minneapolis authorities on Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was booked into Hennepin County jail.

Bail was set at $US500,000 and he is expected to make his first appearance in a Minneapolis court on Wednesday.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, while announcing Noor had been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges, offered new details and a timeline of the lead-up and aftermath of Ms Damond’s shocking death.

“There is no evidence Noor encountered a threat, appreciated a threat, investigated a threat or confirmed a threat that justified his decision to use deadly force,” Freeman told reporters.

“Instead, Officer Noor recklessly and intentionally fired his hand gun from the passenger seat in disregard for human life.”

Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor, after he turned himself in to the Hennepin County Jail. Photo: Supplied by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP

Freeman described how Noor and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, responded to Damond’s 911 call about a potential sexual assault in an alley behind her Minneapolis home just before midnight on July 15 last year.

Damond, 40, originally from Sydney, had heard what she though were a woman’s screams.

Harrity and Noor pulled up in the alley, did not see anything and Noor typed into their car computer “code four”, meaning no assistance was needed, the prosecutor said.

Harrity allegedly then heard a muffled voice or whisper, “a thump” behind him on the squad car and caught a glimpse of a person’s head and shoulders outside the driver’s side door.

“Importantly he could not see the person’s hands and estimated the person was two feet away from him,” Freeman said.

“Harrity saw no weapons.

“However Harrity claimed he was startled, took his gun out of his holster and held it against his rib cage pointing downward.

“Harrity said from the driver’s seat he had a better vantage point to determine a threat on his side of the car than Officer Noor did from the passenger side.”

Freeman said Noor reached across Harrity and shot Damond.Harrity allegedly heard what sounded like a light bulb dropping on to the floor and saw a flash. Officer Harrity checked to see if he had been shot, the prosecutor said.

“He saw Officer Noor’s right hand extend across him toward Officer Harrity’s open window,” Freeman said.

“Office Harrity then looked out his window and saw a woman.

“Justine Ruszczyk (Damond) had put her hands on the wound on the left side of her abdomen and said ‘I’m dying’ or ‘I’m dead’.”

The officers turned on their bodycams after the shooting and attempted to resuscitate Ms Damond but were not successful.

Damond’s family is pleased justice may be served.

“We remain hopeful that a strong case will be presented by the prosecutor, backed by verified and detailed forensic evidence, and that this will lead to a conviction,” Damond’s fiance Don and her Sydney-based father John Ruszczyk and other family members said in a joint statement.

– AAP

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