December 16, 2017 02:36 PM
Gov. Mark Dayton is defending the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension after Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he didn't have enough evidence to charge Officer Mohamed Noor because investigators "haven't done their job."
Freeman is weighing whether to charge Noor, who is accused of shooting Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July when she approached his squad car after calling 911 to report a possible sexual assault.
Dayton issued the following statement:
"The BCA is asked to investigate some of the toughest, most complex cases involving officer-involved shootings. I have the utmost confidence in their professionalism, integrity, and thoroughness. Impugning the quality of their investigations is destructive, and detrimental in our efforts to seek and obtain justice."
Dayton's statement came Friday after Freeman was captured on video expressing his frustration at a holiday reception Wednesday night. Freeman was asked why he hasn't announced charges, and the activist group Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar posted a video of his response on social media.
"Fair question," he replies on the recording. "I gotta 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? It's called investigators, and they don't work for me. And they haven't done their job."
Freeman's office has declined to comment on the video specifically, and instead issued a statement, saying "we are working diligently on the case to complete the investigation as soon as possible." Freeman earlier in the year had said he wanted the decision made by the end of the year.
A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation, defended the agency's professionalism and said the BCA continues to work with Freeman's office on the matter.
"The BCA investigates the majority of officer involved shooting incidents in Minnesota because of our thorough and professional approach to ensuring the integrity of an investigation," the statement said.
"BCA agents and scientists do extensive work to gather all the facts and evidence in order to conduct comprehensive investigations that are then presented to county attorneys for review of possible charges.
"The BCA has consulted with the Hennepin County Attorney’s office from the beginning of this investigation and will continue to work with that office as needed to provide any additional information that they deem appropriate as they review the case."
Noor has refused to talk to the agency. On the video, Freeman can be heard explaining the lack of evidence in the case so far.
"I have to prove beyond reasonable doubt the moment he shot the gun, he feared for his life and he used force because he thought he was gonna be killed," Freeman is heard saying on the tape. "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. I can't talk to her cuz she's gone, and the other cop, just gave us (expletive), OK?"
Toward the end of the nearly six minute long recording, Freeman assures the group that he's not trying to make a "knee-jerk" decision.
"Trust me, nobody wants it done for Christmas more than me," he said. "That's...that's the big present I'd like to see under the Christmas tree."
This story has been updated to include a statement provided by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Updated: December 16, 2017 02:36 PM
Created: December 16, 2017 12:10 PM
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