Minneapolis police chief: Justine Damond didn't have to die

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WLS) -- The mysterious shooting death by police of an Australian yoga teacher shouldn't have happened, according to the Minneapolis police chief.

Justine Damond, 40, was shot by a Minneapolis police officer on Saturday after calling 9-1-1 to report a possible rape in progress.

Justine Damond (Damond family)

Chief Janeé Harteau made her first comments on the case late Thursday afternoon after returning from a backpacking vacation. Harteau has been questioned for her absence during the police crisis that has received worldwide attention. She said she was in a remote location and unable to get away easily-but was in constant communication with her investigators.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau, official photo

The officer who shot Damond, Mohammed Noor, has refused to speak with investigators. Noor is Somalian but Chief Harteau said his nationality had nothing to do with the incident.

Officer Mohammed Noor (City of Minneapolis)

Noor's partner that night, Matthew Harrity, told investigators that as he was driving in an alley he was startled by a loud sound near their squad. Police reports state that as Damond approached the driver's side window of the squad car Noor shot from the passenger seat. The bullet traveled across his partner and through the window, striking Damond in the abdomen. She died at the scene about 20 minutes later.

Police dash and body cameras were not activated and there is apparently no video of the incident, a situation that Chief Harteau said Thursday was unacceptable.

The case has been headline news in Damond's homeland.

"How can a woman out in the street in her pajamas seeking assistance from the police be shot like that?" asked Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
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