Why has a grand jury been convened in the Justine Damond shooting case?

Minneapolis police officers have been called to testify in secret proceedings.

What's happening?

A grand jury has been convened in the shooting of Justine Damond by Minneapolis police officer Mohammed Noor.

The Minneapolis Police Federation confirmed about 35-40 of its officers have been subpoenaed to testify in proceedings, according to the Star Tribune, including Noor's partner Matthew Harrity – the only witness to Damond's shooting.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office released a statement saying that he can't comment on whether a grand jury has been convened because they're secret, however he alone will make a decision on whether any charges are brought against Noor.

Why is this a surprise?

Because following the shooting of Jamar Clark in November 2015, Freeman said that he would no longer use grand juries to decide on charges in cases of officer-involved shootings – he would make the decision instead.

It follows criticisms at a state and national level after a series of high-profile killings of black Americans at the hands of police resulted in no charges following grand jury investigations.

The secret proceedings was criticized for their lack of transparency and accountability.

The circumstances now, however, are unusual, because Freeman has said he alone will make the decision on whether a prosecution will be brought against Noor, which is usually what the grand jury decides.

So what's going on?

A month ago, Freeman appeared in a video taken at a holiday party in which he discussed the Damond case with some union members, expressing frustration with the difficulty he was have bringing any charges.

The case had been investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which had passed a file onto Freeman's office, but Freeman was heard on the video saying: "I gotta have the evidence. And I don't have it yet."

A main sticking point he was having was proving circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly in the instance of whether Noor feared for his life when he pulled the trigger.

"But I can't. He won't answer my questions and he doesn't have to," Freeman said at the time. (Remember, Noor didn't speak with investigators.) 

It could be, then, that he's using the grand jury as an extra investigatory arm, forcing officers to testify under oath in a more formal setting.

Damond's attorney Bob Bennett, speaking to MPR, applauded Freeman's move, saying: "It appears there has been a reluctance on the part of a number of officers to talk, and I'm happy that they are using the grand jury to compel that."

Criminal defense attorney Marsh Halberg told the Pioneer Press a grand jury could give Freeman a strategic advantage by locking down witness testimony ahead of a future trial, but noted he'd never seen a grand jury used in this way in Minnesota in his 40-year career.

Next Up


Judge orders Minnesota gym that defied shutdown to close

Attorney General Keith Ellison sued the gym after it remained open.

montana cutbank

Charges: Man shot victim 'without provocation' using sawed-off shotgun

The incident happened on Nov. 24 in Ten Lake Township, located in Beltrami County.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Walz, first responders address Minnesotans

Some departments have been forced to shift staffing or suspend service due to COVID-19.

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC says COVID-19 quarantine period can be cut to 10 or 7 days

You can come out of a 7-day quarantine following exposure provided you've had a negative test.

maple grove fire

1 person found dead inside Maple Grove business that burned down

A person had been unaccounted following the fire that destroyed Hanson Implement and Storage Tuesday night.

One-dollar bill, cash, money

Appeals court rules MN high school students can get unemployment benefits

They've been denied the benefits, and some were even asked to pay them back.

covid-19, coronavirus

Dec. 2 COVID-19 update: 77 more deaths in Minnesota

The death toll is closing in on 3,700 in Minnesota.

City Pages

Fan creates City Pages archive, Star Tribune tells him to remove it

After word spread that the defunct newspaper's website would go down, a fan created his own copy. Then he got a cease and desist letter.

Adam Thielen

Vikings activate Adam Thielen off COVID-19/reserve list

The star receiver missed last week's victory over Carolina.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop is charged for sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.

Lindsay Whalen

Whalen's Gophers start season with only 7 players available

Whalen isn't happy that a transfer wasn't granted immediate eligibility to play.


Timeline of Justine Damond's fatal shooting

Looking at the chain reaction that started with the beloved 40-year-old's death in July last year.

Here's why no charges have been filed in Justine Damond's shooting

The Hennepin County attorney was confronted by a group of activists with questions.

Family, police react to charges in Justin Damond killing

Minneapolis' police chief and Mayor Jacob Frey are among those who have spoken.

Justine Damond shooting: County attorney is now reviewing the BCA's investigation

County attorney will review it, then decide whether the officer should be charged.

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.

Mohamed Noor

Mohamed Noor guilty of murder, manslaughter in death of Justine Damond

The 10-person jury began deliberations Monday afternoon.

Harteau on Damond killing: 'Justine didn't have to die'

The police chief makes her first public appearance since Justine Damond was shot dead by an officer.

Here's what Justine Damond said in her 911 calls

It is among several documents Minneapolis PD made public Wednesday about Justine Damond's fatal shooting.