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Investigators are under fire from a prosecutor in Minneapolis for their failures to do their jobs in the probe into the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond by Somali-born Officer Mohamed Noor. Damond was an Australian meditation instructor who moved to the U.S. in 2015 to be with her fiance.  

Damond had called 911 to report sounds of a woman screaming for a potential sexual assault. Investigators say Officer Noor’s partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, was driving the squad car and his partner, Noor fired the fatal shot from the passenger side.

Damond’s death has shined the international spotlight on the city of Minneapolis generating public skepticism about the department and its training, including from city officials.   Many of those officials are questioning why the officers involved did not turn on their body cameras. This case has brought extreme scrutiny on the city of Minneapolis with many calling for the resignation of Mayor Betsy Hodges, as well as the resignation of former Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.

Now in yet another scandal surrounding this case Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, is stating he does not have enough evidence to charge Noor.  Freeman states with extreme frustration in a Facebook video –


“I’ve got to have the evidence. And I don’t have it yet. And let me just say, it’s not my fault so if it isn’t my fault, who didn’t do their jobs? Investigators, and they don’t work for me. And they haven’t done their job.”

Freeman was speaking at a holiday reception for the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation on Wednesday evening when he was asked about the decision to bring charges, though it was unclear if Freeman knew he was being recorded. Union member Sam Sanchez recorded the conversation and posted it on Facebook. He had made previous statements regarding his expectation to make a decision regarding whether or not to bring charges against Noor by the end of the year.

Though Freeman did not mention the investigators or their agency by name, it is publicly known that the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is heading up the investigation. The BCA turned the case over to Freeman for prosecution back in September and issued a statement in response to Freeman’s statements regarding no evidence, stating the BCA continues to work with Freeman’s office on this matter.

The BCA statement reads –

“The BCA conducts the majority of officer-involved shooting investigations in Minnesota, and the collaboration between prosecutors and investigators as a case file is reviewed under the statutes is a typical part of the review process. State law prohibits us from providing additional details, because it is an active investigation. We are working diligently on the case to complete the investigation as soon as possible. Beyond that, we cannot comment at this time.”

mohamed noor, justine damond

Noor has refused to give an interview to state investigators about the events that transpired and what prompted him to shoot an unarmed woman that had called to report a potential crime, attempting to help someone yet becoming a victim herself. Freeman has cited this refusal to speak as the reason prosecutors are in a very difficult position now. Freeman states –

“I have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that the moment he shot the gun, he feared for his life. And he used force because he thought he was gonna be killed but I can’t. He won’t answer my questions because he doesn’t have to, OK? We all have Fifth Amendment rights, and I respect that. So I can’t talk to her because she’s gone, and the other cop just gave us some (expletive), OK? So guess what? I gotta figure out angles of the shot, gun residues, reckless-use-of-force experts.”

When asked to elaborate on just how he believed investigators failed to do their job, Freeman refused to give a direct answer, stating –

“Good questions and I respect you asking them. We are working very hard to complete our review of the facts provided in the investigation to date and to assist in helping to complete the investigation.”


Damond’s relatives in Australia have sought the legal counsel of Minneapolis attorney Bob Bennett, though Bennett the family has expressed their concern with a decision to file charges not being made at this time.  They are fearful that justice will not be served in this case and Noor will be allowed to walk freely. Bennett also represented the mother of Philando Castile in a $3 million settlement to avoid a wrongful death lawsuit over Castile’s killing by police in a Minneapolis suburb last year.

Bennett stated –

“I hope that the BCA hasn’t so irretrievably damaged the evidence, or failed to recover evidence that should be reasonably expected to be recovered at the time that the crime occurred and I use the term ‘crime’ pointedly and intentionally.”

Noor is represented by attorney Thomas Plunkett and he expressed his own concern at Freeman’s comments with regard to not having enough evidence to make a charging decision, stating that an investigator’s job is to gather evidence, not create it.

Plunkett stated –

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

Many members of the community in Minneapolis feel very differently about that, with this incident has opening wide the debate wide open on several fronts since Noor was a Somali and is believed to have entered the country as a refugee. Minneapolis is home to one of the nation’s largest Somali communities. In his short time with the Minneapolis Police, Noor has had three complaints filed against him – two that are still open. The other was closed and Noor was not disciplined.

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