Advocates on behalf of Justine Ruszczyk Damond's family said Thursday that they are willing to be patient as prosecutors push beyond an initial and informal deadline to determine with charges should be filed against the Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot the woman behind her home in southwest Minneapolis late at night more than five months ago.
"We've always called for a thorough and complete investigation, and that's the only way to reach justice." said Todd Schuman, who lives near the Damond home and was speaking on behalf of the group Justice for Justine.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that the investigation would continue into next year. Schuman added that he and his group "appreciate what County Attorney Freeman is doing in this matter. While we still have concerns about the problems the [Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] has in its investigation, we are pleased to hear that [Freeman] is using the tools at his disposal beyond what the BCA is able to provide to pursue a complete and thorough investigation."
Earlier this month, Freeman met informally with community activists and said the BCA was falling short in bringing him enough evidence to charge the officer, Mohamed Noor. Those comments were video-recorded without his knowledge and inspired some backlash, prompting him to apologize for what he said.
Council Member Jacob Frey, soon to be sworn in as mayor, struck a slow but sure tone in his reaction to the expanding investigatory time line.
"Clearly, this investigation has taken a while, and I know a lot of people including the immediate family are struggling right now," Frey said. "That being said, I would never want a lack of gathered evidence to result in an unnecessary lack of charge.
"So, let's get the right evidence and arrive at the right results. ... Let's make sure the decision is fully informed with complete evidence."
Frey is scheduled on Friday to attend one in a series of community discussions, hosted by his transition team, where discussion about police conduct is anticipated.
Members of Justice for Justine have said they intend to participate in the gathering, scheduled for 8:30 to 11 a.m. at 3110 Blaisdell Avenue S.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, in a three-sentence statement, acknowledged that the "tragic shooting death of Ms. Justine Ruszczyk Damond has impacted so many people here in Minneapolis and beyond our state. The MPD will continue to await the conclusion of this independent investigation and the Hennepin County Attorney's charging decision."
Arradondo rose to chief following the abrupt resignation of Jenae Harteau over the handling of the Damond case.