A decision on charges in the Justine Damond shooting should come this year

The county attorney said his office has gotten calls demanding charges now.
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The Hennepin County Attorney's Office isn't ready to decide whether criminal charges should be filed in the killing of Justine Damond. But we should know by the end of the year.

In an August newsletter, County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office has gotten "some emails and phone calls" from people demanding Officer Mohamed Noor be charged immediately for shooting Damond in a Minneapolis alley on July 15.

Freeman said in the newsletter that those same people have also accused the office of "all kinds of nefarious reasons" for why they haven't charged Noor up to this point.

To which the county attorney pushed back, saying this is the same procedure they've taken with three previous officer-involved shootings.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates. Then it turns the findings over the the county attorney. And finally, the county attorney reviews the case to determine whether charges should be filed.

And that takes some time.

"That procedure requires a thorough investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to make sure that when we receive the evidence of the case to undertake the charging decision, we have a complete understanding of what occurred before and during the incident," Freeman said.

He said the entire process generally takes 4-6 months. 

So take for example, the Jamar Clark shooting. It took about three months for the BCA to complete and hand over its investigation. In late March, Freeman announced he wouldn't be filing criminal charges against the officers involved.

In all, it was about 4 1/2 months from the time Clark was shot until a decision on charges was made.

Damond was shot and killed about 1 1/2 months ago, and the BCA has not yet said the investigation is complete.

Freeman will again make the decision

Freeman also said he will stick with a decision he made following Clark's shooting death – he will make the call on whether Noor should be charged, rather than a grand jury.

The county attorney said it allows for "more transparency and accountability." Grand juries (which had traditionally been used in all officer-involved shootings) are made up of 16 to 23 people, and meet in complete private to decide on whether charges are warranted. 

And while Freeman acknowledged he has no way of knowing for sure when he'll make a decision, he's confident the usual timeline will be met.

"I fully expect a decision in this case before the end of 2017," he said.

The Damond shooting

Damond, a 40-year-old Australian native, was shot and killed by Noor on July 15. She'd called 911 to report a possible sexual assault.

Investigators found no weapons near Damond. The Minneapolis police officers' body cameras were not turned on.

Warrants from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's investigation found there was a loud noise and a woman slapped the car just before Noor fired his gun.

A possible witness to the shooting did speak with investigators.

Noor has said little, declining to give an interview to the Bureacu of Criminal Apprehension but releasing a short statement expressing his condolences to Damond's family and saying he'd like to say more, but there are investigations going on.

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