A US prosecutor in Minnesota has criticized the investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman, saying he does not have enough evidence to file charges.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said investigators looking into the death of Justine Damond in Minneapolis in July “haven’t done their job,” and he still lacks sufficient evidence to prosecutor officer Mohamed Noor.
He made the unguarded comments at a holiday party Wednesday evening when approached by a group that videotaped the interaction and posted it on Facebook. The video drew attention from local media on Thursday.
“I’ve got to have the evidence, and I don’t have it yet,” Freeman said. “Let me just say it’s not my fault. So if it isn’t my fault, who didn’t do their job? Investigators. They don’t work for me. They haven’t done their job.”
Noor and partner Matthew Harrity were responding to Damond’s emergency call about a possible rape near her home in the middle of the night, when the 40-year-old approached their police cruiser in her pajamas. Noor shot and killed Damond from the passenger seat of the car.
Harrity told investigators there was a startling loud noise just prior to the shooting, and his attorney left open the possibility that the officers may have feared an ambush.
Freeman said Noor has been uncooperative, refusing to speak with investigators, and that his partner did not provide useful evidence.
“So, guess what? I’ve got to figure out angles of the shot, gun residues, reckless use of force experts,” Freeman continued.
“I have to follow the law,” he said, adding he needed “sufficient admissible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Damond’s shooting prompted an international outcry, as she was an Australian national who had moved to the US to marry her fiancee.
Widespread protests and criticism led to the resignation of Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau.