Amid outrage over the fatal police shooting of a woman who had called 911 for officers’ help, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has resigned. The killing inspired protests and bewilderment in the city, as citizens waited for details on why the officer fired at Justine Ruszczyk. Protesters disrupted a news conference by the mayor on Harteau’s successor, and demanded that the mayor herself resign.
Harteau released a statement that said she has reflected on “last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other incidents,” and concluded that she is “willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes” take over.
“The recent incidents do not reflect the training and procedures we’ve developed as a Department,” Harteau said. “Despite the MPD’s many accomplishments under my leadership over these years and my love for the City, I have to put the communities we serve first.”
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges issued a statement saying, “I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further — and from the many conversations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well.”
Demonstrators calling for police reform shouted down Hodges at a Friday night news conference she had called to comment on the chief’s resignation and to say Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo would lead the force. The protesters said Hodges has been ineffective and chanted slogans such as “Bye bye, Betsy.” They ignored her offers to “sit down and talk about the future of policing.”
Transcripts of 911 calls released by the police department on Wednesday showed that Ruszczyk phoned to say she was worried a rape might be taking place outside her home. According to the officer driving the squad car that arrived on the scene, he was startled by a loud noise nearby. After that, Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side of the car, and the other officer in the car, Mohamed Noor, shot her once through the open driver’s window.
The officers’ body and car cameras had not been turned on.
A state agency is conducting an independent investigation.
Ruszczyk, who was also known by her fiance’s surname Damond, was from Australia, where the case has caused outrage.