Mohamed Noor Lawyers Argue 'Fly-Through' Video Is Prejudicial In Justine Damond Trial
Attorneys in the Mohamed Noor case have argued whether or not the jury will see a 3D scan of the shooting scene on Tuesday.
Two fly-through videos of the neighbourhood where Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk-Damond were created as part of the crime scene investigation at the time.
The scans are what the Minneapolis Police Department now use to document the exact locations of the car and the deceased, as well as the measurements to calculate possible bullet trajectories.
It is a new way of gathering crime scene data. The scans use laser lights that record hundreds of thousands of data points, thereby creating a 3D image of the scene, which picked up the locations of fingerprints, blood stains, casings and a cell phone.
“It’s the MRI of a crime scene,” Prosecutor, Patrick Lofton explained.
As a result, special agent Philip Hodapp was asked by investigating officers to use the Leica scan data to create “hypothetical bullet paths” to prove that it was possible Ruszczyk was shot by someone inside the patrol car.
“There was dispute the gunshot didn’t come from inside the car, that was the point of creating (the fly-through), to show the shot was possible,” Mr Hodapp told the court.
Another forensic mapping specialist, William Henningson, created a similar video but his used hypothetical “pawns” to depict where Noor was in the car and where Ruszczyk was standing in the alleyway.
He was then able to create what he called a “possible field of fire”, estimated roughly, with different gun positions and assuming Ruszczyk was standing in the same spot she passed 1.4 metres from the car.
“We don’t know for certain where the muzzle was, we know the bullet didn’t hit the car when it was discharged, but if it was closer to the window there would have been a wider angle of fire,” Mr Henningson explained.
It is these illustrations of potential locations that Prosecutor Patrick Lofton argues will greatly assist the jury when the trial starts, citing its use in other officer-involved shootings across the country.
“3D scanners provide scientifically accurate data and highly credible evidence in a court of law,” was the main point.
However Noor’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, argued the fly-through should be inadmissible because it “inaccurately and prejudicially depicts what a person would actually see”.
The scans are an accumulation of seven angles of data that are stitched together to create one moment in time, but Plunkett is questioning its accuracy because the scans were taken over a 7-hour period between 3am and 10am.
Ruszczyk’s body was moved during that time along with other items, changing aspects of the scene as you fly through.
“It appears we can see through solid objects,” Plunkett said while cross-examining Hodapp.
He continued to question the scientific credibility of those using this high-tech equipment, asking each witness over the five-hour conference if they had degrees in physics, computer science or coding -- which none of them had.
This argument though was quickly shut down by Lofton, who asked special agent Hodapp: “Do you know how Microsoft Word was designed and coded?”
The response was “no”.
“Do you type police reports on it,” he fired back.
The answer was “yes”.
Plunkett finished by describing the evidence as “speculative” and “unrealistic”.
“We can’t say this is fundamentally accurate… I don’t think this is helpful,” he said.
Judge Kathryn Quaintance will consider it’s admission into the trial overnight.
She did make a ruling on other evidence though, that testimony from an officer who took part in an officer-involved shooting or critical incident may not be heard by the jury, as well as any evidence from expert witnesses that explains the after-effects on an officer following these types of events.
Noor’s current psychological health must also be avoided.
Jury selection for the trial began on Monday and six jurors have already been eliminated after showing bias in their 18-page questionnaire.
It will re-commence on Wednesday with individual and group questioning.
It’s understood 12 jurors will be selected with a further four alternatives should there be any issues with jurors mid-trial.
The trial is expected to run for at least three weeks.
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Featured image: AAP.