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The Latest: BCA head: Damond probe thorough, independent

May 1, 2019
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Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, center left, walks into the Hennepin County Courthouse for the verdict in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond with his lawyers Peter Wold, left, and Thomas Plunkett, right, in Minneapolis, on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Noor was convicted later of third-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of the unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape behind her home. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)
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Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, center left, walks into the Hennepin County Courthouse for the verdict in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond with his lawyers Peter Wold, left, and Thomas Plunkett, right, in Minneapolis, on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Noor was convicted later of third-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of the unarmed woman who approached his squad car minutes after calling 911 to report a possible rape behind her home. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on a Minneapolis police officer being convicted of murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who had called 911 (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

The head of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is defending the agency’s investigation into a police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who had approached his squad car.

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans says agents did a thorough and independent investigation into the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia who was shot shortly after calling 911 to report a possible rape behind her home.

The officer, Mohamed Noor, was convicted of murder and manslaughter Tuesday.

Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, called the BCA’s early work on the case “either active resistance or gross incompetence.” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman also said the BCA made early mistakes in the case.

Evans said in a statement that agents worked more than 2,000 hours on the case and worked closely with Freeman’s office from the beginning. He said he can’t give more specifics of the way the investigation was done because it remains open pending a possible appeal by Noor.

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3:25 p.m.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he’s asked for information from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on how it investigated a Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman.

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Walz said Wednesday he needs to understand what happened and how the BCA’s work might need to be improved. He says he expects the BCA to follow best practices and follow the law when it investigates officer-involved shootings.

The BCA came under criticism for its early handling of the investigation into the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Former officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of murder Tuesday.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman complained during the investigation that BCA agents weren’t doing their jobs. But he said Tuesday that the BCA brought in new agents who did exemplary work.

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10:30 a.m.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar says a guilty verdict for a Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed a woman who had called 911 to report a crime is “an important step towards justice” and a victory for people who oppose police brutality.

But Omar also says in a tweet Wednesday that Mohamed Noor’s conviction in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white woman, comes after acquittals nationwide for officers who killed people of color. Noor is Somali American, as is Omar.

Noor shot Damond, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, in July 2017 when she approached his squad car after summoning officers to a possible rape behind her home.

Omar says there must be the same level of accountability in all officer-involved killings.

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8:15 a.m.

An association for Somali American police officers says it believes institutional prejudice “heavily influenced” the murder conviction of a Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman.

Mohamed Noor was convicted Tuesday in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of Australia and the U.S. who had called 911 to report a possible rape behind her house. Noor shot Damond when she appeared at the squad car’s window immediately after what he said was a loud bang that startled him and his partner.

The Minnesota-based Somali American Police Association also said in its statement that the Hennepin County prosecutor had “other motives” than serving justice in going after Noor. County Attorney Mike Freeman has rejected the suggestion that race played any part in charging Noor.

Noor was fired after he was charged.

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12 a.m.

A jury took little more than a day to convict a black Minneapolis police officer of murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed white woman who had called 911 to report a possible crime.

The guilty verdict sparked questions about whether race played a role.

Mohamed Noor is Somali American. He was convicted in the July 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. Noor testified he shot Damond after becoming startled, and she appeared at his partner’s window, raising her arm. 

It’s rare for police officers to be convicted, but some Minnesota community members say they saw this coming for Noor because he is Somali American.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said race is not a factor in his work and the evidence shows Noor acted unreasonably.

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