MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The shooting death of Justine Damond is now in the hands of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed the Australian native on July 15 after she had called 911 to report a sexual assault in the alley near her south Minneapolis home.
Damond was shot in the stomach as she approached the squad car.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced that it had completed its investigation into the shooting and had forwarded the case to the county attorney’s office for possible charges.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman will decide if charges are to be filed against Noor. His office made no comment on the case Tuesday.
However, Freeman did speak out over the weekend at a meeting with Damond’s neighbors.
“I am saddened by the death of this fine young woman,” he said. “It didn’t have to happen, it shouldn’t have happened.”
Joe Daly, professor emeritus of Mitchell Hamline Law School, says Freeman’s comments are legal but unwise.
“The implication is he has already made his decision,” Daly said. “It almost sounds like he is advocating something.”
Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police union, said Tuesday that he doesn’t think Freeman can be impartial in the case.
“It would seem Mr. Freeman has already formed an opinion of Officer Noor’s guilt prior to receiving any evidence,” Kroll told WCCO-TV. “At this point he should be conflicted out from reviewing the case.”
Some activists, including Minneapolis mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds, said via social media that Freeman’s expression of sympathy for a white victim of police violence is evidence of “a double standard” when compared to the November 2015 Minneapolis police shooting death of Jamar Clark.
Officers in the Clark case said he was resisting arrest and going for one of the officer’s guns. Freeman ultimately decided the Clark shooting was justified.
The evidence in the Damond case, including a statement by Noor’s partner, has raised more questions than answers about Noor’s actions.
Officer Mathew Harrity told investigators that Noor suddenly shot Damond moments after there was a loud sound outside the car.
WCCO-TV has learned that that loud sound was Damond banging on the police SUV to get the officers’ attention.
Harrity returned to police duty last week. Noor remains on paid administrative leave.
Damond’s fiancé, Don Damond, released a statement Tuesday thanking investigators, adding that he and his beloved’s family want the county attorney to “swiftly review the findings and determine charges.”
In its own statement, Freeman’s office said that a decision on whether to file charges will be made only after a careful review of the case.
Noor’s attorney could not be reached for comment.