Many Australians are outraged today.
The news of the shooting of an Australian woman in the US, outside the Minneapolis home she shared with her fiancé and future stepson is causing puzzlement, wrath, incomprehension, sadness, and yes, outrage is not too strong a word.
She’d called the police to report a potential sexual assault taking place near the house. When the police arrived, she approached the car, dressed in her night clothes and clutching her phone. She spoke through the driver’s window. And then the driver’s partner shot her. Twice. Past his partner’s face and through the open window, killing her.
Oh please. From all accounts she was not an aggressive, mouthy woman who would refuse to obey the police’s usual charming barked orders. She was 40, blonde, slight, and dressed in pyjamas. Not an obvious suspect in a potential sexual assault. She was holding a mobile phone. Not a gun. Not even vaguely like a gun, and certainly not like a gun if you’re sitting only a few feet away. And she approached the police, the so-called guardians of the community, for help, instead of running away, as a criminal would.
Conveniently enough, the officers involved had not obeyed policy and switched on their body cameras. The dash cam wasn’t working/failed to record the incident. Funny, that.
Nobody is saying anything. The police force have not expressed regret at this incident, the officer in question has offered his condolences but not apologies, and asks us to respect his privacy. WTF? How hard is it to make an announcement that a terrible mistake has been made, that investigations will be carried out with all due haste and the results announced promptly?
Officer Noor, who has presumably received thorough training in telling the difference between helpful members of the public and criminals, appears to have committed criminally negligent homicide. He took out his gun and shot – twice – a woman who was not threatening him, who was trying to be a good citizen, and who had not attacked him. He made the decision to kill her rather than disable her by some other means. He had a professional duty to be sure of his facts and differentiate between the public and the perpetrator. Protect and serve, yes? This is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
Criminally negligent manslaughter occurs where there is an omission to act when there is a duty to do so, or a failure to perform a duty owed, which leads to a death. The existence of the duty is essential because the law does not impose criminal liability for a failure to act unless a specific duty is owed to the victim. It is most common in the case of professionals who are grossly negligent in the course of their employment.
That sounds about right, doesn’t it?
More reading on the subject of police culture in the US: