February 06, 2018 06:28 PM
In a measure he deemed "an abuse of authority" by the Hennepin County Attorney, Minneapolis police union President Lt. Bob Kroll says at least 30 police officers have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the investigation into the officer-involved shooting death of Justine Damond in July.
Most of the subpoenaed officers were trainers or educators of Mohamed Noor, the officer who fired his weapon, Kroll said.
But Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has made it clear he will decide if charges will be filed against Noor.
So why convene a grand jury? KSTP asked former U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose.
"We do not know why the county attorney is using a grand jury," Paulose said. "What we do know is there are significant penalties for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury. We know there are significant penalties, including perjury charges, for lying to a grand jury. We know grand jurors are required to keep those processes secret, and there are consequences for them if they leak information to the media or other people.
"So, this turns up the volume on the intensity of the investigation in a way that would not be possible by using prosecutors from (Freeman's) own office."
Damond called 911 last July to report an assault in the alley behind her home. Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity were the responding officers.
Harrity told the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension the officers were parked in an alley when they heard a loud noise. That's when Damond approached the driver's side of the squad car, and was fatally shot by Noor.
There was no body camera footage, and Noor has refused to speak with investigators. Harrity was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.
On Tuesday, Kroll said, "They subpoenaed in 30-40 cops today, only to have the bulk of them receive another subpoena for later this week. It’s an abuse of authority, and waste of tax payer money on the part of Mike Freeman’s office."
The BCA finished its investigation in September and turned the case over to Freeman, who was secretly caught on camera in December criticizing the bureau's work.
Freeman had previously said he would no longer use grand juries in police shooting cases because they lack transparency. He has declined to confirm a grand jury is investigating the Damond case, citing the secrecy of such proceedings, but said he still intends to make his own decision on whether to charge the officer.
The move to use a grand jury became public after officers received subpoenas and about a month after Freeman said he didn't have enough evidence and more investigation was needed.
Freeman would be required to prove Noor's actions in shooting Damond were "culpably negligent" if he were to pursue manslaughter charges under Minnesota law, according to experts. He also needs to prove Noor's actions were objectively unreasonable at the time.
The grand jury proceedings will continue through Thursday, a source tells KSTP.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Updated: February 06, 2018 06:28 PM
Created: February 06, 2018 05:43 PM
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