When Mohamed Noor joined the Minneapolis police force and was assigned to patrol the city’s southwest corner, the Somali community there — the nation’s largest — threw a party for him to celebrate.
He was the first Somali American officer to serve in Minneapolis’s fifth precinct and one of fewer than a dozen Somali American officers in the department. His presence on the squad brought Somali activists some pride and reassurance at a time of Islamophobia in America and nationwide racial tension stoked in part by shootings of black people by white police officers.
Now that same Somali community is bracing for a backlash against Noor that has already begun.
On Monday, multiple media outlets named Noor as the officer who fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman in the city’s popular Fulton neighborhood over the weekend, an incident that has grabbed global attention and thrust Minneapolis into yet another uproar over police violence.
Officials have not publicly confirmed the officer’s name.
Tom Plunkett, an attorney who said he to represent Noor, said in a statement that the officer “extends his condolences” to those mourning 40-year-old Justine Damond’s death and “takes their loss seriously.”
“We would like to say more, and will in the future,” Plunkett said. “At this time, however, there are several investigations ongoing and Officer Noor wants to respect the privacy to the family and asks the same in return during this difficult period.”
Although Plunkett did not respond to requests to explicitly confirm that Noor fired the shot that killed Damond, several Somali leaders in Minneapolis said in interviews with The Washington Post that they were aware of the officer’s involvement.
“There is no question that he is the officer,” Somali activist Omar Jamal told The Post. “We knew this right after the shooting, but we didn’t want to release the name.”
The Minneapolis Police Federation declined to comment and referred questions to Noor’s attorney. A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department directed inquiries to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency investigating the shooting, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Katie Mettler