MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –Jurors had to sort through credibility issues when a teenager took the stand in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor on Wednesday.
Noor faces murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017. She had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home.
The jury heard testimony from people who live in the south Minneapolis neighborhood where Ruszczyk Damond was shot and killed.
A teenager who was riding his bike by the scene at the time of the shooting was questioned by both the prosecution and defense. He admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking several shots of whiskey before riding his mother’s bike to a friend’s house.
The teen said he had marijuana in his pocket and when he saw officers standing outside their squad car he got nervous. He said he put his headphone on and ducked his head only after noticing a woman with a cellphone up to her ear and her other hand in the air. He says as he passed the mouth of the alley he heard a gunshot.
He says he immediately pulled his phone out.
“This is the age of the phone, everything gets recorded,” the teen said.
He says he saw Officer Matthew Harrity run to the aid of the woman who was shot helping her to the ground. He says Noor was pacing around.
Video from his phone was played. The teen asked, “What’s going on here, sir?” He said it was Noor who said he can keep recording as long as he stepped to the side. The video was only 30 seconds long.
The teen said between the time of the shooting and when the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension came by his home to take his phone, he got numbers of Minneapolis’s chief of police and mayor at the time: Janeé Harteau and Betsy Hodges. He said he wanted to call them because, “I saw a police officer shoot a woman, serious business.”
The teen was interviewed days after, and told investigators the officers were out of the car when the gun was fired. He admitted, “I currently don’t remember most of the incident. I tried to get it out of my head after the interview.”
Defense attorneys pointed out inconsistencies between that interview and what he told attorneys months later. He told the jury to rely on what he said says after the shooting because he knows that’s the most reliable, and the account he knows is accurate.