Comments on Damond investigation were “ill advised,” Freeman says

The Hennepin County attorney apologized Monday to state investigators

Freeman. File photo

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman apologized Monday to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for his video-recorded comments criticizing the agency’s investigation into the officer-involved shooting of a Minneapolis woman.

In a written statement issued by his office, Freeman said he was not aware he was being recorded when he told a group of activists BCA investigators “haven’t done their job” and that he still lacked essential evidence in the case. The activists confronted Freeman at a Dec. 13 holiday party for public employees and asked him why it was taking so long for him to make a decision on whether or not to charge the officer who shot Justine Damond in July.

Freeman said he was “wrong to discuss both the agency’s work and what discussions we are having internally at the county attorney’s office.” He described his comments as “ill advised” and said he apologized personally to Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman.

Damond, 40, called 911 July 15 to report a possible assault near her home at 51st & Washburn. She was shot and killed by Officer Mohamed Noor, one of two responding officers from the Minneapolis Police Department. The department asked the BCA to investigate the shooting.

Also known as Justine Ruszczyk, Damond had begun using the name of her fiancée, Don Damond, prior to her death. The two were engaged to be married in August.

Freeman had previously said he planned to make a decision on the case before the end of the year. On Monday, he said he planned to share more news about the status of his decision next week.

“Investigators and members of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, including me, have been working nonstop to gather all evidence, follow every lead and bring this matter to a resolution,” Freeman said. “Police cases, however, are very complex. They demand the most thorough and complete investigations possible. While some clamor for swift justice, only careful, detailed work and careful analysis brings us real justice.”