Statement on Justine Damond Shooting

It is essential for the future of our city that people feel safe. This includes being able to call the police for help without fearing for their lives. When an unarmed person is shot and killed by a police officer, there needs to be an open, transparent, and impartial investigation into the situation. There must be the highest possible standard placed on the use of deadly force and there must be real, serious consequences for officers that abuse their position. We must all demand that we never have another Jamar Clark, Philando Castille, or Justine Damond.

Nearly five days after Justine Damond was killed, we still know shockingly little about why she lost her life. It’s important that the investigation proceed in an effective and impartial way, but it is equally important that the public gets answers. What we do know is that this was an innocent member of our community who sought to help someone. Justine did what we expect all our citizens to do – she called the police to report a possible crime. It is abhorrent that someone calling for help would end up dead at the hands of police. We must demand accountability.

What we also know, is that neither officer activated their body camera in time to capture meaningful information about the incident. The dashboard camera in their patrol car was not recording. These facts show a confusing gap in the policy of the Minneapolis Police Department or in the directives they receive from city government. It is very difficult to hold police officers accountable if we don’t have the evidence. Body cameras were touted as a solution to this problem, and it’s tragically clear now that more must be done. We must demand reform.

I am heartbroken for Justine’s family, friends, neighbors, and for all the residents of our city. We must immediately move to correct the gaps in our body camera policy. I believe that every call or interaction with the public should be recorded, starting today. We also must immediately engage in a cultural shift within the police department. Officers cannot be trained to fear the people they are sworn to protect, and cannot be expected to act first and ask questions later.

We as a city must demand better.

Tom Hoch