Witness Compelled to Testify About Police Shooting of Australian Woman
A Minneapolis prosecutor is convening a grand jury in the fatal shooting of Justine Damond by a police officer, Mohamed Noor, to help determine whether charges should be filed against the officer.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, dozens of police officers have been summoned to testify.
Damond, 40, an Australian native, was shot and killed by Noor after she reported a suspected attack behind her home.
Noor shot and killed Damond from the passenger seat of the police car, across his partner, Matthew Harrity, and through the driver’s window.
Harrity, the only other living witness, has been subpoenaed to testify.
In July 2017 Harrity told investigators of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension he and Noor were startled by a loud sound as they reached the alley behind Damond’s home.
Grand jury proceedings are conducted behind closed doors and the sworn testimonies are used to decide whether charges should be laid.
Hennepin County’s top prosecutor, Mike Freeman, said in a statement that ultimately he will determine whether to lay charges in the Noor case.
“Because grand jury proceedings are secret, we cannot comment on grand jury subpoenas or any testimony that occurs before a grand jury,” said the statement.
Noor who has been on administrative leave since the shooting has refused to talk to investigators.
Damon’s family in Australia has welcomed the grand jury, said Bob Bennett, the lawyer representing the family.
Bennett told the Star Tribune: “I and the family are happy that the Hennepin County attorney is using every means at their disposal to get people to cooperate in this investigation and suffer the penalties of perjury if they lie to the grand jury.”
“I question whether [witnesses] have been totally forthcoming or told the truth in whole,” he said.
The move to convene the grand jury comes after the investigation into the shooting appeared to stall late last year. On Dec. 15, 2017, Freeman was caught on video saying that he did not have enough evidence to charge Noor and that the investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension “haven’t done their job.”
Freeman has since apologized for the comments.
Damond’s death sparked protests and led to a police department shakeup, including the resignation of Chief Janee Harteau.