Police Chief Speaks Out For First Time On Justine Damond: She "Didn't Have To Die"

"I believe the actions in question go against who we are as a department, how we train and the expectations we have for our officers."

By Eric Shorey

Scandal has erupted around the death of Minneapolis meditation teacher Justine Damond, who was shot to death by police after calling to report hearing suspicious sounds in a nearby alley. Now, as the investigation into the death continues, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau has spoken out and characterized the shooting as "unnecessary."

According to The Star Tribune, in her first public appearance since the shooting, Harteau repeatedly claimed there was no possible justification for the death and the officers should have had their body cameras turned on.

“Justine didn’t have to die,” Harteau said plainly.

She also emphasized that one officer's behavior does not reflect the department as a whole.

“Based on the publicly released information from the BCA, this should not have happened... On our squad cars, you will find the words ‘To protect with courage and serve with compassion.’ This did not happen... I believe the actions in question go against who we are as a department, how we train and the expectations we have for our officers. These were the actions and judgments of one individual,” she said while being careful not to mention the legal ramifications of the situation.

Harteau also reflected on the training of Officer Mohammed Noor, the cop who shot Damond.

“This is about an individual officer’s actions. It is not about race or ethnicity,” Harteau said, contradicting claims from Rep. Michele Bachmann, who asserted Noor was an "affirmative-action hire."

“We have a very robust training and hiring process," Harteau added. "This officer completed that training very well, just like every officer. He was very suited to be on the street... Although disheartening, I understand the fear and why it exists. This has had a negative impact on the community trust we’ve built. Moving forward, we will work toward regaining the trust with everything we do.”

Harteau had been conspicuously absent in the fallout of the shooting, saying that she was on a personal trip backpacking in a remote mountain, but had received briefings on the situation.

[Photo: Instagram]

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