Justine Ruszczyk Damond with fiance Don Damond and his son, Zach Damond.
Justine Ruszczyk Damond with fiance Don Damond and his son, Zach Damond. Facebook

Clue could explain Justine Damond's death

JUSTINE Damond's family have slammed as "disgusting" claims by killer cop Mohamed Noor's lawyer she may have been on drugs when he shot her.

It came as Ms Damond's murder claimed the scalp of Minneapolis police chief Janne Harteau. Hours after she quit, protesters chanting "Justice for Justine" briefly forced Mayor Betsy Hodges out of a City Hall press conference, demanding her resignation and police reform.

"You have been ineffective as a leader and we want you to take your staff with you because they have terrorised us enough," a man yelled at her.

Chief Harteau was roundly condemned for continuing her hiking holiday for five days after Ms Damond's death - the third highly controversial fatal police shooting in the Midwest city in less than two years.

Mayor Hodges revealed she asked for her resignation, saying "I've lost confidence in the Chief's ability to lead us further … It is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well."

Ms Damond was shot dead in her pyjamas by Noor last Saturday night after she called 911 to help a woman she believed was being sexually assaulted in the alley behind her.

Noor's lawyer on Thursday said it would be "nice to know if there was any (prescription sedative) Ambien in her system", in an apparent attempt to paint Ms Damond's behaviour as having contributed to the tragedy.

"It was absolutely sickening, and that's the game these lawyers play, to try to attack the victim," family spokesman Tom Hyder told News Corp Australia.

"My stomach turned when I heard that.

"Justine was someone who only ate organic, she watched everything she ever put into her body. She is not someone who would have used drugs."

Mr Plunkett's statement plays into the likely defence he is building for client, who faces a possible murder charge, that he feared he was being "ambushed" and fired in fear of his life.

Noor has so far refused to talk to investigators, but Officer Matthew Harrity, who was driving their squad car, described three simultaneous events when they arrived at the scene eight minutes after Ms Damond's second call for help.

A man rode a bike towards them, there was a loud sound and Ms Damond approached their car holding her mobile phone. Noor fired his service revolver through the drivers' side door, killing the lifecoach, animal rescuer and meditation teacher on a neighbour's driveway.

Investigators have been hampered by the fact neither officer turned on their bodycams during or after the shooting.

Police had appealed for the cyclist to come forward, and revealed last night he was now co-operating with their investigation. A source has reportedly told the Star Tribune in Minnieapolis that he filmed the incident on camera.

This could give police more information about what happened to Ms Damond.

Ms Damond's fiance Don Damond - who she was to marry next month - has been surrounded by friends and family in the couple's south Minneapolis home since he arrived home from a business trip the morning after she died.

Among them is the mother of Philando Castile, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police was streamed live on Facebook a year ago and sparked mass protests. Valerie Castile has been supporting Mr Damond and they met on Thursday night local time before a march in which hundreds showed up to demand justice.

"When Philando Castile's mother met with Don, that's what she talked about, how the system starts to make a villain of the victim," said Mr Hyder, a close friend of Mr Damond who is speaking on his behalf.

"She said her job is to get accurate information out to the public about Philando and so she really encouraged all of us. That's the important thing. We need to get the truth out about who Justine was."

Ms Damond's killing is still front page news across the US and protesters gathered on Friday night at a march organised by Black Lives Matter.

The crowd cheered as news spread of Chief Harteau's resignation.

More than 200 people of mixed race and age began marching at from the city's Loring Park shortly after 7pm local time, arriving an hour later at City Hall, where they briefly forced Mayor Hodges out of a press conference room before being removed by police.