The alley in which Australian woman Justine Damond was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer was shadowy and poorly lit when the shooting took place, an independent investigation has concluded.
Damond, 40, died on the evening of July 15 after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in an alley near her home. While responding officers Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor drove through the alley with their lights off, Harrity said they were startled by a loud sound right outside their squad car and feared that they may have been set up for an ambush.
"Immediately afterwards," according to Harrity, Damond appeared at the driver's side door, and Noor discharged his weapon from the passenger's seat, striking Damond in the stomach and killing her.
The officers did not have their body cameras turned on before the shooting. Nor was their dash camera turned on.
"I share the frustration and dismay that we don't have body camera footage," Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said during a press conference, according to CBS News. "We all want answers, we all want to see justice done. I ask the BCA to share as much as they can."
While Noor has declined to be interviewed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), he reportedly told people close to him that the alley was dark when Damond appeared suddenly beside the car, according to the Daily Mail.
In order to better understand what officers Harrity and Noor were contending with, the Daily Mail went to examine the alley around 11:30 p.m., the approximate time that Damond was shot.
The news outlet found that the alley had only two street lamps lighting it, both of which result in a glare. There are, however, motion-activated lights affixed to garages and backyards. Around the midpoint of the alley is a small ridge that momentarily makes it impossible to see the alley's end.
When Daily Mail investigators came to the end of the alley, they found that the poor lighting was made even worse by a large tree that hangs over the right side. Nevertheless, Damond was said to be standing in a spot that was better lit.
As the police investigation continues, Damond's family has hired attorney Bob Bennett, who previously represented Philando Castile, a black motorist who was also shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer.
"She obviously was not armed, she was not a threat to anyone, nor could she have reasonably been perceived to be," Bennett told WCCO, according to NBC News.
He added that, in his judgment, the argument that the officers feared an ambush is "ludicrous" and "disinformation."
"It doesn't have any basis in fact," he said.
Noor has not provided a statement and cannot be compelled to do so by the BCA. However, NBC News reports that his own police department's internal affairs unit can compel him to give a statement -- and even fire him if he refuses.
It is unclear whether the Minneapolis Police Department is preparing to take that measure.