No decision on Damond case before end of year

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Thursday he does not yet have enough information to make a charging decision in the July police shooting that killed Justine Damond.

“A dedicated team in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has been working diligently since we received the case in mid-September,” Freeman said. “Our goal was to complete the review and make a decision on whether or not to bring charges by the end of the year. We are getting more information and evidence and additional investigation must be completed. As I have mentioned before, the investigation and review of the case will not be rushed. It is more important to get it right than to get it done quickly.”

Freeman said he would not take questions from the media on his announcement.

In mid-December, a local activist group released video of Freeman making statements critical of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is handling the investigation. Pressed on what was taking so long to charge the case, Freeman said BCA investigators “haven’t done their job.”

Freeman later apologized for the remarks.

Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, was native of Australia who was living in the Fulton neighborhood. She called 911 on July 15 to report a possible assault near her 51st & Washburn home and was shot by one of two responding Minneapolis police officers. According to investigators, Officer Mohamed Noor said he was surprised by a loud sound before firing his weapon from inside the police vehicle being driven by Officer Matthew Harrity.

Noor has so far refused to be interviewed.

In a news conference in Australia, Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk said he was “deeply concerned” about the BCA investigation after hearing Freeman’s remarks.

Attorney Bob Bennett, who is representing the family, has said they are less concerned about Freeman’s end-of-year timeline than a thorough and complete investigation.