Justine Damond Ruszczyk: Police officer explains comment after

A US police officer who told his colleague to “keep your mouth shut” after the fatal shooting of Australian life coach Justine Damond Ruszczyk says he was merely giving advice.

Minneapolis police officer Jesse Lopez was among several officers to testify at Mohamed Noor’s trial about the night in July 2017 that Mr Noor, 33, shot Ms Damond after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.

Mr Noor is charged with murder and manslaughter in the dual US-Australian citizen’s death.

Mr Noor’s lawyers have argued he was reacting to a loud noise and feared an ambush when he shot Ms Damond as she approached his squad car.

media_cameraMohamed Noor is charged with second-degree intentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Justine Damond Ruszczyk in July 2017. Picture: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP

But prosecutors say there is no evidence of any threat to justify deadly force. Neither Mr Noor nor his partner that night, Matthew Harrity, had activated their body cameras before Ms Damond was shot.

The only body-camera video in the case comes from after they switched on their cameras following Ms Damond’s death, and from officers who arrived at the scene. That included Mr Lopez, who was recorded telling Mr Noor to “keep your mouth shut until you have to say anything to anybody”.

Mr Lopez testified on Friday that he had worked alongside Mr Noor in the city’s 5th Precinct before.

media_cameraJustine Damond Ruszczyk and her fiance Don Damond. Picture: Supplied

He said when he talked to Mr Noor in the minutes after the shooting, he wasn’t ordering him not to talk but rather speaking officer to officer.

“It’s what came to mind to advise him,” Mr Lopez said.

Body-camera footage played in court on Thursday showed Mr Lopez shutting off his camera at certain points, including when he was talking to Mr Noor and later when he spoke with Mr Noor’s supervisor at the scene.

Prosecutors have sought to draw the jury’s attention to the inconsistent use of body cameras after Ms Damond was shot.

Another officer, Mark Ringgenberg, testified earlier this week that he also told Mr Noor at the scene not to say anything.

Mr Noor ultimately refused to speak to state Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents who investigated the shooting. It’s not clear whether Mr Noor will testify.

Originally published as Cop defends comment after Aussie’s death

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