County Attorney: No Charging Decision, Damond Investigation Continues into 2018

December 28, 2017 05:49 PM

The video above aired last week, when Hennepin County Attorney promised a status update on the charging decision by the end of the year.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman had initially said his team would announce its decision on whether it would file charges in the shooting death of Justine Damond, but on Thursday, Freeman said in a statement the investigation would not be completed by the Dec. 31 deadline.


“A dedicated team in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has been working diligently since we received the case in mid-September,” Freeman said in a statement. “Our goal was to complete the review and make a decision on whether or not to bring charges by the end of the year. We are getting more information and evidence and additional investigation must be completed. As I have mentioned before, the investigation and review of the case will not be rushed. It is more important to get it right than to get it done quickly.”

Freeman's office also said he spoke with the Damond family by phone Thursday to express "deepest sympathies from himself and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and explained why there would be no decision by Dec. 31. He also informed them that there is no timetable for when the decision will be made."

Last Wednesday Damond's father, John Ruszczyk, held a press conference and delivered a prepared statement to the media, expressing concern about the investigation conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. 

On Thursday, the Ruszczyk family issued a statement following the announcement.

"We support Mr. Freeman's decision to take additional time to ensure the investigation is rigorous and complete," the statement said. "We want justice and appreciate the support from all those who want the same. We ask for the public's patience to allow the investigation to continue." 

RELATED: Damond's Family Expresses Concern About Investigation

Freeman was caught on camera criticizing the BCA investigation relating to the July 15 shooting when Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed Damond who had called 911 to report a probable sexual assault.

Freeman said on camera he didn't have enough evidence to charge Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor because investigators "haven't done their job." 

RELATED: Prosecutor: Not Enough Evidence Yet in Damond Shooting

Freeman's comments came at a holiday reception Wednesday night when 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.

"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 later issued an apology to the BCA.

The county attorney's office added it will have no further comments on the case for the rest of the year.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement on Facebook, "The tragic shooting death of Ms. Justine Ruszczyk Damond has impacted so many people here in Minneapolis and beyond our state. The MPD will continue to await the conclusion of this independent investigation and the Hennepin County Attorneys charging decision."


Theresa Malloy

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