Accusations of a police department "cover-up" for the Justine Damond shooting are spreading across social media as the details of the shooting appear to change. People are asking: why else would the police department change their story if not a cover-up? The answer is quite simple; the police never changed the story, the media did.
After the shooting of Justine Damond, the investigation was turned over to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The BCA is to act as an unbiased outside investigator, and have a reputation for not releasing many details until investigations are complete.
Since the start of the investigation, there have only been three witnesses to the actual shooting, and one additional witness to the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
The witnesses to the shooting were Justine Damond, Officer Mohamed Noor, and Officer Matthew Harrity.
To date, the BCA has announced that Officer Mohamed Noor, Justine Damond's shooter, has refused to speak with investigators. Justine Damond is dead and unable to speak with investigators herself. That makes Officer Harrity the only witness who has disclosed what has happened.
Prior to Officer Harrity speaking with investigators, an unidentified "source" told a reporter that Justine Damond was outside of the driver's door speaking with officers at the time she was shot.
Not only was that information not released by any official law enforcement source, it came before any witness spoke to investigators. Assuming that the "source" actually had knowledge of the investigation, they would have only known that forensic evidence showed that Damond was shot through the driver's window.
There is absolutely no evidence at this time that suggests that Justine Damond had been speaking with officers. Any reports that she had engaged the officers in conversation are fabricated, because this claim was released prior to any witnesses speaking about the incident.
After the initial interview with Officer Matthew Harrity, the BCA stated that the officer said that he was startled by a loud sound, and immediately afterwards, Justine Damond approached the driver's door. Officer Mohamed Noor responded by shooting Damond through the open driver's window.
After this information was released. The media speculated that the loud noise was aerial fireworks, because dispatch recordings around the time state that fireworks were heard in the area. No law enforcement source ever claimed that the "loud noise" heard by Officer Harrity was, in fact, fireworks or even sounded like fireworks.
No publicly released information even says that Officer Harrity so much as suggested hearing "fireworks;" it only says that he heard a "loud noise."
In fact, no law enforcement source even so much as confirmed that there were fireworks anywhere near the shooting.
Now information has been released from a search warrant that indicates that Justine Damond "slapped" the back of the police car as she approached the driver's door. This information was also not officially released, but obtained through records of a search warrant.
To date, BCA investigators have made only two official statements on the shooting. One statement which indicated that Officer Harrity heard a "loud noise" before the shooting, and another statement which says that they have interviewed a male bicyclist who witnessed the aftermath of the shooting; they provided no further details.
At no point in time have investigators ever change the narrative of what happened.
In addition, if this investigation was a "cover-up," then it must be the most incompetent cover-up ever, because none of the information released indicates that the shooting was justified.
If this is a "cover-up" then the goal must be to make Officer Noor look bad, because that's what the facts of the investigation are doing.
As this investigation goes forward, you can expect to see different pieces of information released through official and unofficial channels, but the facts gathered in the investigation have not changed.
Officer Noor shot over his partner, through a window, to shoot Justine Damond. There is currently no known justification for the shooting.
Officer Noor or his attorney must eventually release his justification for the shooting, or claim that the shooting was an accidental discharge. If Officer Noor offers a justification for the shooting, then the reasonableness of his justification will be evaluated. If it's determined that he acted unreasonably, then the shooting would not be legally justified.
If it's determined that the shooting was an accidental discharge, then it would also not be legally justified.
Either way, as long as Officer Mohamed Noor continues to remain silent about the shooting, criminal charges are imminent. The prosecutor will have no choice but to file charges when there is no justification presented for the shooting.