September 12, 2017 06:19 PM
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has completed its investigation into the officer-involved fatal shooting of Justine Damond, and the case has now been submitted to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.
A release from the county attorney's office said several senior prosecutors will review the BCA's findings to determine what, if any, charges will be brought.
During a press conference Tuesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the case review will be handled "very carefully" and that he would ultimately make the decision to charge or not the Minneapolis police officer accused of shooting Damond.
"It would not surprise you at all that officer involved shooting cases are handled as carefully as we possibly can and yours truly will read every word," Freeman said.
Damond was fatally shot July 15 by Officer Mohamed Noor who was one of two officers responding to her 911 call about a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.
Damond's fiancee, Don Damond, declined media interviews Tuesday but released a statement reading, "The BCA has concluded its investigation, but the wait continues for Justine’s family and me. We want to see justice for Justine, and hope that the Hennepin County Attorney will act swiftly to review the findings and determine charges."
The release said neither Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, nor the county attorney's office, would have any further comment at this time. At a meeting on Sunday, though, Freeman met with South Minneapolis residents to take questions. There, he reportedly remarked that the shooting "shouldn't have happened."
Freeman has said his office will not empanel a grand jury to determine whether the officer who shot and killed Damond should be charged with a crime. Instead, he expects his office to decide whether to charge Noor by the end of the year. The statement released Tuesday added that the county attorney's office often requests further investigating from the BCA before making its decision.
Rachel Paulose, a former United States attorney, said the large case file could take some time to get through.
"Certainly given how high-profile this case is, they're going to want to take their time and go through the evidence very carefully," Paulose said.
A search warrant filed publicly earlier this month showed an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was seeking Noor's background records, including pre-employment psychological exams.
According to a search warrant filed in Hennepin County District Court, investigators also took four CDs worth of data from the cell phones of Noor and fellow officer Matthew Harrity.
They were searching for data including contact lists, text messages, emails images, video, social media history and web browsing history.
The BCA has also reviewed training records of the officers involved.
BCA agents were able to locate and identify the bicyclist who was a witness to the shooting.
"Prosecutors will be heavily dependent on the testimony of the companion officer as well as this eyewitness on the bicycle," Paulose said.
According to records filed in court, the scene itself was searched at 6:30 a.m. on July 16 - roughly seven hours after the incident.
Among the items submitted for analysis were:
Frank Rajkowski and Kirsten Swanson
Updated: September 12, 2017 06:19 PM
Created: September 12, 2017 09:25 AM
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