MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After saying late last year that he needed more time to decide on whether to bring charges against Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in the shooting death of Justine Damond, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman appears to be convening a grand jury in order to gather more evidence.
Noor fatally shot Damond on July 15th after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her southwest Minneapolis home. Noor fired the fatal shot from inside a squad car. He has declined to speak with investigators.
On Wednesday, officer Matthew Harrity, who was with Noor the night of the shooting, was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, his attorney told The Star Tribune.
The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis says their members will fully cooperate with the grand jury process.
Sources have also told WCCO-TV that Freeman was going to convene a grand jury in the case. However, the county attorney’s office said Wednesday it would not comment on grand jury proceedings, because they are secret.
What the county attorney’s office did say is that Freeman will make the final decision on charges, not a grand jury.
That note is in keeping with the office’s statement in 2016 — during the Jamar Clark investigation — that Freeman would be responsible for decisions on charges in cases involving fatal police shootings.
“The problem with the grand jury is its decision is confidential, and the names of the grand jurors are not made public, for there is a perceived lack of accountability,” Freeman said at the time.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released a statement following the news of a grand jury.
“Arriving at the right decision requires the right facts and complete truth. No institution – including the City of Minneapolis – should stand in the way of uncovering that truth,” Frey said.
Freeman’s apparent move in the Damond case comes after an episode in December where he expressed frustration over the slow pace of the investigation. In a recorded interaction with activists, he blamed BCA investigators for not doing their jobs. He later apologized.
The Damond shooting sparked demonstrations in Minnesota and gained international attention. Amid the immediate aftermath, Freeman said a decision on charges would come before 2018. In late December, however, he said the investigation was still on-going.
“As I have mentioned before, the investigation and review of the case will not be rushed,” he said. “It is more important to get it right than to get it done quickly.”
Damond, 40, was fatally shot on July 15 after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her south Minneapolis home. Noor fired the fatal shot from inside a squad car, which Harrity was driving.
Noor has declined to speak with investigators.