December 14, 2017 10:25 PM
A Minnesota prosecutor says he doesn't yet have enough evidence to charge a Minneapolis police officer who killed an unarmed 911 caller this summer, blaming investigators who "haven't done their job."
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is weighing whether to charge Officer Mohamed 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.
Freeman was captured on video expressing his frustration at a holiday reception Wednesday night after he was asked why he hasn't announced charges. The activist group Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar posted the video on social media.
On the video, Freeman is asked why he hasn't announced criminal charges against Noor yet.
"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, also declined to comment.
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."
Tom Plunkett, Noor's attorney, issued a statement Thursday, calling Freeman comments concerning.
"No lawyer wants their client placed under a Christmas tree as a present to a vocal segment of the community," Plunkett said in the statement.
Former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger reviewed the video Thursday afternoon.
"I was surprised that the prosecutor would use a public, social environment to discuss the facts of the case and to criticize the law enforcement with which he was working," Heffelfinger said.
He also explained what's discussed on the video sheds some light on what's going on inside the county attorney's office.
"In hearing (Freeman) talk about this, it's pretty clear to me that the investigation is not yet complete," Heffelfinger said. "He's asked for more information, hasn't been provided him yet. I expect this is going to take a while longer."
KSTP reached out to Don Damond, Justine Damond's fiancé, who declined comment.
Updated: December 14, 2017 10:25 PM
Created: December 14, 2017 02:52 PM
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