Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told a group of activists Wednesday that he currently lacks the evidence to charge Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in the fatal shooting of Justine Damond. Freeman also criticized investigators for not doing their jobs in the case.
The activists posted a video of the encounter to the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar Facebook page. Read a transcript of the conversation below.
ACTIVIST: We noticed you’ve been hesitating on announcing if you’re going to prosecute Officer Noor for the murder of Justine Damond, and we’re just wondering what’s what’s taking so long and why that’s happening. We don’t want it to be something like what happened with Jamar Clark, we want to make sure that that gets done. And we’re wondering …
FREEMAN: Fair question. I’ve got to have the evidence, and I don’t have it yet. And let me just say, it’s not my fault. So if it isn’t my fault, who didn’t do their jobs? It’s called investigators, and they don’t work for me. And they haven’t done their job.
ACTIVIST: But that’s kind of like what you said for Jamar too, though, Mike. I mean, you kind of said the same thing, but there was mounds and mounds of evidence. So I mean she called the police, and they shot her. I don’t understand why this seems to be such a hard thing.
ACTIVIST: There has to be accountability though.
FREEMAN: Fair question. I have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the moment he shot the gun, he feared for his life. And he used force because he thought he was going to be killed. But I can’t. He won’t answer my questions, because he doesn’t have to, okay? We all have Fifth Amendment rights, and I respect that. So, I can’t talk to her because she’s gone and the other cop just gave us shit, okay? So guess what, I’ve got to figure out angles of the shot, gun residues, reckless use of force experts. I mean, everybody, I agree with you.
But if you look at this, if you look at this, here’s a nice lady who hears something bad outside. She calls the cops, they don’t come. She calls again. They drive by in her alley. They don’t stop to talk with her, and she comes out in her jammies and she’s killed by a cop.
FREEMAN: Sounds easy doesn’t it? But it’s not just ... Can I prove the cop shot her? I could have done that the first day.
ACTIVIST: But the thing is, that’s what a trial is for. So why don’t you just bring him to trial? You have him in front of a judge. He has to ask the questions.
FREEMAN: That’s not how it works.
ACTIVIST: Is that not how it works? That’s not how the system works?
FREEMAN: It’s not. Before I charge somebody, I have to have sufficient admissible evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. You can shake your head, sir, but would you like me to charge your friend just because I think maybe he did it, and let a jury decide?
ACTIVIST: But the fact is that’s how the justice system works all the time. You do it to innocent poor people all the time, Mike. And it happens everyday. So why is it so difficult when it’s a police officer, Mike?
FREEMAN: Well, because I have to follow the law.
ACTIVIST: We don’t want you to not follow the law. We just want ...
ACTIVIST: We just want everybody to be accountable.
FREEMAN: And listen, and what I can say to you …
[UNINTELLIGIBLE DISCUSSION OF OFFICER REITER CASE]
FREEMAN: Did you see my quote in the paper? I said the sentencing wasn’t enough either. It wasn’t what we asked for. But I prosecute, I don’t sentence them. We asked for more. Because, the best thing about that, he’s got a felony, he’ll never be a cop again. Get him the hell out of here, sir. When I get it done, I promise you, it’ll be thorough. It’s the best I can do, okay? Listen, there’s nobody in America who’d rather be done right now than me, okay. Because a lot of people aren’t as respectful as you are when you ask the question, and I appreciate that. You’re entitled to ask the question. And we’ll get it done.
FREEMAN: [UNINTELLIGIBLE] I’m not judging. I have a hard enough time. I’ve got 400 employees and 200 cases. I have a hard enough time doing my own.
FREEMAN: There’s lots of problems. But I’m not going to make it worse by just doing a knee-jerk charge and say let the jury decide. No, no. I have to know what happened before I can charge. And that’s when I’m doing my job. And thanks for having some patience. Trust me, nobody wants it done for Christmas more than me. That’s the big present I’d like to see under the Christmas tree. Thanks for listening.