On the evening of July 15th, two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 callin the city’s upscale Fulton neighborhood. When the officers arrived, Justine Damond — a 40-year-old, white Australian woman wearing pajamas — emerged outside and stood next to the cruiser’s driver’s side window. She described the incident that caused her to call 911 — a possible sexual assault in the alleyway behind the home that she shared with her fiancé, whom she planned to marry the following month.
Because the two cops in the cruiser failed to record the interaction, it’s unclear what happened next. What we do know is that, during the interaction, the officer in the passenger’s seat, Mohamed Noor, pulled out his firearm and shot Damond through the driver’s side door, killing her. In the aftermath of Damond’s death, media reports focused on why the officer failed to turn on the body camera he was wearing.
He shouldn’t have had to.
Last year, the Minneapolis Police Department paid $55,800 for products designed to automatically record police interactions without officers having to worry about manually turning on their body cameras.
According to documents obtained by The Verge through Minnesota’s Freedom of Information Act, the department arranged to purchase 200 Axon Signal Units in March 2016. The Axon Signal Unit is an automatic recording product designed to be installed in a police cruiser. It is capable of turning on an officer’s body camera in a number of circumstances, such as when the cruiser’s light bar is engaged, when its crash sensors are activated, when it reaches a certain speed, when its front and rear doors are opened, or when nearby dashboard cameras or body cameras are switched on. “Signal guarantees that all footage goes recorded and saved,” according to online sales materials from Axon Enterprise, Minneapolis PD’s body camera provider.