Saturday April 6, 2019
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor leaves the Hennepin County Government Center after the first day of trial in Minneapolis on Monday, April 1, 2019. Noor is charged in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who was killed after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys for a former Minneapolis police officer
accused of fatally shooting an unarmed woman joined the media’s
challenge Friday to a judge’s restrictions on what video evidence may be
seen by the public during the trial.
Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance heard a request
from a media coalition led by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and including
The Associated Press to allow the public and media to view graphic
evidence presented to the jury at the trial of Mohamed Noor. He is
charged with murder and manslaughter in the 2017 death of Justine
Ruszczyk Damond, a dual Australian-U.S. citizen who was shot when she
approached his squad car after reporting a possible sexual assault near
The judge ruled last week that body camera footage recorded after the
shooting will be shown only to the jury, attorneys and herself.
“I am trying to protect the pictures of this woman naked and her
gasping for breath in the last moments of her life,” Quaintance said at
the hearing.Damond was in her pajamas at the time of the shooting, and
her top was removed as efforts were made to rescuscitate her.
Media attorney Leita Walker argued it’s important for the public to see how jurors react “in real time” to seeing the evidence.
“What the jury sees, the public should see,” Walker said.
The judge took the motion under advisement and promised a quick ruling.
Earlier Friday, jury selection continued with Noor’s attorneys
quizzing potential jurors about decision-making in high-stress
situations and about bias. Noor is Somali American. Damond was white.
Attorney Thomas Plunkett sought to ask prospective jurors whether
they had heard of police officers being ambushed. After prosecutors
objected, Plunkett shifted to questions about the safety of police
officers and handling stressful situations.
Plunkett also asked how the potential jurors felt upon seeing Noor,
who’s also Muslim. Some responded that they initially thought the
suit-wearing Noor was on the defense team.
Prospective jurors also were asked if they could handle seeing
graphic evidence including autopsy photos. A woman in the jury pool who
said she watches a police reality TV show choked up and dabbed her eyes
with a tissue.
“It’s just very tragic,” she said. “This is real.”
Two more potential jurors — a young woman who worried about losing a
semester of credit at the University of Minnesota where she is a student
and a young musician who depends on gigs for her livelihood — were
excused Friday from hearing the trial, which could go three to four
weeks. Jury selection continues Monday.