No Evidence to Prosecute Police Officer in Justine Damond Shooting

Mohamed Noor, Justine Damond

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday that he does not yet have enough evidence to file charges against a Minneapolis police officer in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, blaming investigators who “haven’t done their job.”

Freeman made the comments during a union event after being confronted by activists, who recorded the interaction. They asked Freeman why it has taken so long for him to decide if Officer Mohamed Noor was justified in shooting and killing Damond on July 15.

“Fair question. I’ve got to have the evidence, and I don’t have it yet,” Freeman responded. “Let me just say it’s not my fault. So if it isn’t my fault, who didn’t do their job? Investigators. They don’t work for me. They haven’t done their job.”

Freeman said coming to a decision “is the big present I want under the Christmas tree.”

Damond’s family was “deeply distressed and unhappy” following Freeman’s remarks, said Bob Bennett, the attorney representing the family.

“We expected a quality investigation that would be fair, complete and accurate, and apparently that hasn’t happened,” Bennett said.

Noor’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said he was concerned by Freeman’s comments.

“No lawyer wants their client placed under a Christmas tree as a present to a vocal segment of the community,” Plunkett said. “That said, this case is about an officer that followed procedure and training. This led to the death of a very fine person, which is a horrible tragedy but not a crime.

“Investigators gather evidence, they don’t create it. That is their job. I am concerned by any supplemental investigation — especially if it is directly overseen and influenced by the county attorney.”

The video was made by union members who were also members of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, a group formed after the November 2015 death of Jamar Clark, who was shot and killed during a struggle with two Minneapolis police officers. Sam Sanchez, who was part of the group that made the video, said Freeman was not told he was being recorded. The group posted the video on its Facebook page Wednesday night.

Asked how investigators failed to do their job, Freeman responded via e-mail: “Good questions and I respect you asking them. We are working very hard to complete our review of the facts provide[d] in the investigation to date and to assist in helping to complete the investigation.”

Noor shot and killed Damond on July 15, after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault outside of her south Minneapolis home. Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, responded to the call. When she approached the squad, Noor, from the passenger’s seat, shot across Harrity in the driver’s seat, striking Damond in the abdomen.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which investigated the shooting, turned over the case to Freeman for charging consideration on Sept. 12.

Freeman has said repeatedly he would make a decision on whether to charge Noor by the end of the year.

But during a news conference Tuesday, he softened that stance, saying it was now “the goal” to make a decision by the end of the year. Otherwise, he has remained publicly silent on the case.

In the six-minute video, the activists approach Freeman at the Wednesday event. After Freeman said he did not have the evidence to charge Noor, blaming investigators for not doing their job, one man said, “I don’t understand why this seems to be such a hard thing.”

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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