Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau has resigned after her department was rocked by an officer-involved shooting that she slammed as “unnecessary.”
Harteau resigned Friday evening, less than a week after her officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed Justine Damond, who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault outside her house.
Damond, a 40-year-old meditation teacher scheduled to be married next month, was fatally shot as she approached the police cruiser and the cops were startled by a loud sound.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges had expressed shock at the shooting, and on Friday tried to explain the shake-up.
“We need new leadership at” the department, Hodges said at a Friday night news conference. “We are not slowing the pace of our transformation.”
But protesters were angry with Hodges’ own leadership and quickly shut down her news conference.
“We want you to step down just as your Chief Harteau did,” a protester yelled. “We want you to take your staff with you because they have terrorized us enough.”
Hodges made a failed bid to calm the jeers.
“I hear and understand your objections,” she said before the news conference was drowned out by shouting. “I am happy to sit down and talk with people here in Minneapolis.”
Harteau said earlier Friday that she was stepping aside to allow “a fresh set of leadership eyes” to look at how to fix the department’s problems.
“Last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other recent incidents, have caused me to engage in deep reflection,” she said in a statement, referring to Damond’s death.
“Justine didn’t have to die,” Harteau said Thursday of the shooting, adding that the evidence suggests it should not have happened.
An attorney for Noor, who along with his partner Matthew Harrity has been placed on administrative leave, said that his client feared an ambush when he was arriving on scene.
Damond, in her pyjamas, was unarmed, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating.
The BCA said Friday that Noor, a 31-year-old officer with less than two years’ experience in the department, has refused to be interviewed about what happened.
Outrage over Damond’s death, felt in her native Sydney as well as across the U.S., comes as the national conversation on police-involved shootings has centered on the Twin Cities.
Damond’s family has hired the same lawyer as the family of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria worker killed by an officer at a suburban St. Paul traffic stop last year.
St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of charges including manslaughter last month.
Castile’s mother Valerie Castile attended a rally in support of Damond’s family and met with her fiancé Don on Thursday night.
Minneapolis police also came under scrutiny for the controversial shooting death of Jamar Clark in November 2015.