Two Hundred People To Give Evidence In Justine Damond Trial
The trial into accused killer cop Mohamed Noor began Monday in Minneapolis and the first day focused on picking the 12 jurors who’ll eventually decide his fate.
Noor is the first police officer in Minnesota to be tried for murder after firing his gun, shooting and killing Justine Ruszczyk Damond nearly two years ago.
Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity were responding to Damond's 911 call after she reported a woman being assaulted in the alleyway behind her home.
When they got there, Justine ran to the patrol car and was shot.
Harrity has given evidence about the events of the evening but Noor does not have to testify by right.
More than 200 people have been called to give evidence over the next three weeks, most are current or former members of the Minneapolis Police Department.
The state has also called Justine’s fiancé Don to take the stand, even though she was home alone the night of the shooting.
But before they even begin the attorneys will have to choose their jurors. Seventy-five potential jurors were sworn in; 50 men and 25 women and of those there were just 15 people of colour.
They will be reduced to a group of 12 after answering an 18-page questionnaire that explores their relationships with people of Somali descent, their involvement in activist groups and if they’ve ever been treated unfairly by a police officer.
Once the jury is decided, it will be up to prosecutors to prove beyond reasonable doubt that when he fired his gun, shooting and killing Damond nearly two years ago, that he did it with ‘intent’ and a ‘disregard for human life’
It’s a prospect even local legal professionals are giving a 50-50 chance.
Others have described the trial as one between white, black and blue.
The case has incited anger in Minnesota, so much so that Judge Quaintance says the “court’s chambers have received threatening phone calls concerning the court’s evidentiary rulings”, referring to the lack of public access to the courtroom and the evidence presented.
Todd Schuman from Justice for Justine is disappointed that the case will be heard in a small administrative room in the Hennepin County Government Center.
“A case which has attracted international attention is being held in a 28-seat courtroom, the space is so tight the Ruszczyk and Noor families are seated in the same row shoulder to shoulder,” he said at a protest held to mark the start of court proceedings.
Local CBS Wisconsin reporter Reg Chapman said in his 15 years of reporting he’s never experienced this and it’s creating even more bitterness in a city where 178 people have been killed by police in two decades.
“For the first time ever a police officer is being held accountable for shooting a civilian but they happen to be a black man so there’s all sorts of feelings right now,” he told 10 News First.
"Unfortunately, in this case, nobody wins we lost a person in our community and we also have one of our people who serves and protects in the hot seat.”