It sure sounded like a cut-and-dry case. A woman bent over, conversing with police at the driver’s side window when the officer in the passenger seat pulled his weapon and shot her. It horrified Americans and spun the whole debate over #BlackLivesMatter on its head, all because Ruszczyk was white.
Months later, no one has been charged in what seemed like the biggest slam dunk out there.
Well, believe it or not, there’s not enough evidence.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told a group of union members Wednesday that he does not have enough evidence to decide yet whether he’ll file charges against Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, and he blamed “investigators” for not doing their jobs.
Noor fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk from the passenger seat of his squad car through the driver’s side window after he and his partner, officer Matthew Harrity, responded to a 911 call on July 15.
Ruszczyk, known professionally as Justine Damond, had called police to report that she thought she’d heard a woman yell for help outside her home in Minneapolis’ Fulton neighborhood, telling the 911 operator she was worried someone was being attacked.
Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar posted the prosecutor’s conversation with a group of union members during the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation holiday reception Wednesday night on the activist group’s Facebook page.
Freeman’s remarks came after one of the activists asked him why he hadn’t yet announced charges in the case against Noor.
“I’ve got to have the evidence and I don’t have it yet. And let me just say, it’s not my fault,” Freeman said in the video. “So if it isn’t my fault, who didn’t do their jobs? … Investigators, and they don’t work for me. And they haven’t done their job.”
So Freeman was quick to throw investigators under the bus on this.
Of course, it’s interesting because the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who took over the investigation, completed theirs back in September and sent their information onto Freeman.
Regardless, the shooting of Ruszczyk sparked some changes within the Minneapolis Police Department. For example, a policy change within the department now requires officers to turn on their body cams when responding to any call.
Further, it may have contributed to the ouster of incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges by challenger Jacob Frey in November.
Freeman, who probably wishes to remain in office for a while, may feel he needs to be very careful. For one, if he’s seen favoring law enforcement, even if it’s not true, he’s likely to be punished for that later. However, he doesn’t need to be seen as unfairly targeting a police officer either because, well, he needs that department to work with him going forward.
Unfortunately for him, the longer he waits to make a decision, the longer political factors may force his hand to prosecute. As it is, it’s not difficult to imagine that Freeman may have been hoping people would just forget the name “Justine Ruszczyk” and go about their lives. They’re not, though, which means his hand may be forced.
Now, I’m not going to get offer up my opinions so to what happened. I haven’t seen video and all my information has pretty much been filtered through the mainstream media, so who knows how accurate it really is.
I will say this, though. If Mohamed Noor is guilty of shooting Justine Ruszczyk without just cause, he deserves to be sent away for a long, long time. I’ll defend police officers until my last breath, but they’re not perfect. Some are bad people, some are idiots, and some are careless. I don’t know of Noor is any of these, but I suspect a jury will be deciding that in the near future.