Prosecutors to Consider Charges in Australian Woman’s Death

MINNEAPOLIS—The case of a Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman in July has been handed over to prosecutors for possible charges, investigators and prosecutors announced Tuesday.

It’s the third high-profile police shooting in recent years in which a Minnesota prosecutor will make a charging decision himself rather than rely on the grand jury process, which has been criticized because it is secret and rarely ends in officers being charged.

Officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot Justine Damond, a 40-year-old life coach who was engaged to be married, on July 15 after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Noor’s partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached the driver’s side window of their police SUV.

Harrity, who was driving, said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat, hitting Damond.

Noor has not spoken publicly about the case. His attorney had no comment.

In this May 2016 image provided by the City of Minneapolis, police officer Mohamed Noor poses for a photo at a community event welcoming him to the Minneapolis police force. (City of Minneapolis via AP, File)

In a statement Tuesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office has received the case and “several senior prosecutors will now carefully review the case file to determine what, if any, charges might be brought.” Freeman has said he expects to decide on charges before the end of the year.

Damond’s fiancé, Don Damond, released a statement Tuesday saying “the wait continues for Justine’s family and me. We want to see justice for Justine.” He said the family hopes Freeman “will act swiftly to review the findings and determine charges.”

Justine Damond’s maiden name was Justine Ruszczyk, but she had already started using her fiance’s last name.

In this Aug. 11, 2017, file photo, Johanna Morrow plays the didgeridoo during a memorial service for Justine Damond in Minneapolis. (Aaron Lavinsky /Star Tribune via AP, File)

During a meeting with Minneapolis residents Sunday, Freeman said the shooting of Damond “didn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t have happened.” According to the Star Tribune, Freeman told residents that his job was to determine whether Noor did something criminal and whether there was enough admissible evidence to support a charge.

In another high-profile police shooting, Freeman decided that no charges would be filed against two officers involved in the November 2015 death of Jamar Clark—a decision that led to several protests in Minneapolis.

In that case, Freeman broke precedent with the standard practice of having a grand jury decide whether officers would be charged in police shootings and he made the decision himself. Freeman said in a recent statement that he would follow that same practice in the Damond case.

Protesters have long decried the use of grand juries in police shootings because they rarely result in officers being charged.

Freeman noted at the time of Clark’s death that grand juries had been used to consider police shootings in his county for more than 40 years, and no officers had been indicted. He said by making the decision himself there would be more accountability and transparency.

Another Minnesota prosecutor, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, also opted against a grand jury when his office made the charging decision in the July 2016 shooting of Philando Castile. In that case, the officer was charged with manslaughter and other counts, but was acquitted in a jury trial.

Freeman said Tuesday that his office would remain in contact with state investigators as it reviews the Damond case and may ask them to do additional work.

Associated Press

 
 
 
RECOMMENDED ARTICLE

How to save a choking infant

How to save a choking infant
READ MORE >
 
 

Developing: Powerful Earthquake Hits Central Mexico, Collapses Buildings

Developing: Powerful Earthquake Hits Central Mexico, Collapses Buildings
MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico on Tuesday, collapsing some buildings, cracking the facades ...
READ MORE >
 

Trump Lays Out New Vision for World in UN Speech

Trump Lays Out New Vision for World in UN Speech
NEW YORK—President Donald Trump laid out his vision for the world in his first speech to the U.N. ...
READ MORE >
 
US

Obama Administration May Have Wiretapped Trump Tower, Reveals New Report

Obama Administration May Have Wiretapped Trump Tower, Reveals New Report
After recently claiming that allegations the Obama administration wiretapped the Trump Tower were groundless, CNN reported new details ...
READ MORE >
 

Toys ‘R’ Us Files for Bankruptcy Ahead of Holiday Season

Toys ‘R’ Us Files for Bankruptcy Ahead of Holiday Season
Toys 'R' Us Inc, the largest U.S. toy store chain, filed for bankruptcy protection late Monday, the latest ...
READ MORE >
 

Rescuing turtles from ghost net

Rescuing turtles from ghost net
Sea turtles have become entangled in ghost nets floating in the ocean. These creatures are particularly vulnerable to becoming ...
READ MORE >