News and Commentary

Police Officer Lauded By Minneapolis Mayor As First Somali Officer, Allegedly Shoots Pajama-Clad Woman To Death

On Saturday night, an Australian woman who was engaged to be married, was shot to death while in her pajamas, allegedly by a Somali man who was celebrated by the mayor of Minneapolis as the city’s first Somali police officer.

In 2016, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges gushed on Facebook, “I want to take a moment to recognize Officer Mohamed Noor, the newest Somali officer in the Minneapolis Police Department. Officer Noor has been assigned to the 5th Precinct, where his arrival has been highly celebrated, particularly by the Somali community in and around Karmel Mall.”

Now, Justine Ruszczyk, 40, is dead; she had called 911 on Saturday night to report a noise and a possible sexual assault in an alley in South Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although police were not wearing body cameras, as police in Minneapolis have to manually turn them on, witnesses told police that police officers arrived at 11:30 p.m. Saturday night. The sequence of events was captured, in part, by police radio.

Ruszczyk had allegedly walked up to the police car in her pajamas and addressed the driver when Noor reportedly pulled out his gun and shot her through the driver’s door. According to one source, when Noor opened fire, his partner was “stunned.”

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a news release, “Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S. just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday. At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.”

Strangely, a spokeswoman for the BCA confirmed there was no weapon found at the scene.

Ruszczyk was set to marry American businessman Don Damond, 50, in August.

Ruszczyk’s website stated she was a “corporate speaker, trainer and coach” who worked to spiritually help others. She had trained to be a veterinarian at the University of Sydney, later becoming a yoga instructor and life coach holding sessions at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Centre.

According to KSTP, city records show Noor had three complaints on file.

The murder made national headlines in Australia.

Thousands of Somali refugees have settled in the Twin Cities since Somalia’s civil war erupted in 1991, with Minneapolis-St. Paul becoming the de facto “capital” of the Somali community in North America.