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Jury selected to hear murder trial of ex-Minneapolis officer

Mohamed Noor, 33, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of Australia and the U.S. who was shot when she approached his squad car.

Posted: Apr 8, 2019 6:30 AM
Updated: Apr 8, 2019 2:40 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A jury of 12 men and four women was seated Monday to hear the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman who called 911 to report a possible rape near her home.

Mohamed Noor, 33, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a dual citizen of Australia and the U.S. who was shot when she approached his squad car.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A timeline of key moments in the July 15, 2017, fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a possible crime, and the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Mohamed Noor:

July 15, 2017 — Damond calls 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Officers Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor respond and, finding nothing, they prepare to leave when Harrity is startled by a loud noise near the squad car. Noor, in the passenger seat, shoots past Harrity, striking Damond through the driver's side window.

July 16 — Hundreds gather in Damond's southwest Minneapolis neighborhood to mourn. Mayor Betsy Hodges says she is "heartsick" and "deeply disturbed" by the shooting. State investigators say officers had not turned on their body cameras and that squad car video didn't capture the shooting.

July 17 — An autopsy shows that Damond, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, died of a gunshot to the abdomen. The officer who shot her is identified as Mohamed Noor, a Somali American with less than two years of experience who became an officer after working in property management.

July 18 — State investigators say Noor declined to be interviewed.

July 20 — Police Chief Janee Harteau makes her first remarks on the shooting, saying it "should not have happened" but defending Noor's training. She says the city is reviewing its policy on body cameras and wants them to be used more often.

July 21 — Harteau resigns at Hodges' request after the mayor says she no longer has confidence in the chief. Hodges names Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo to take over. At a news conference to discuss the change, Hodges is shouted down by protesters who say she should resign, too.

July 26 — Arradondo announces changes to the police department's body camera policy that will require officers to turn them on when responding to all calls and whenever they initiate traffic stops or take other actions.

Sept. 12 — The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation hands its findings to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office.

Nov. 18 — City Council member Jacob Frey defeats Hodges in an election that was influenced in part by police-community relations.

Dec. 13 — Freeman is captured on video saying he doesn't have enough evidence to charge Noor, blaming investigators "who haven't done their job."

Dec. 28 — Freeman says he'll miss a self-imposed deadline for deciding on charges by the year's end because he needs more time. He soon convenes grand jury and subpoenas other officers to compel them to tell what they know, but says he still intends to make his own decision on charges.

March 20, 2018 — Noor is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and is fired. A count of second-degree intentional murder is added later.

July 23 —The Damond family files a $50 million lawsuit against Noor and the city. That case is later put on hold while the criminal case proceeds.

March 1, 2019 — Noor pleads not guilty.

April 8 — Jury of 12 men, four women seated on sixth day of jury selection.

April 9 — Opening statements scheduled.

After a week of questioning and paring down an original pool of 75 people, the jury finalized Monday includes a firefighter and paramedic, an ob-gyn, a civil engineer, a grocery store manager, a restaurant host, a carpenter and a Homeland Security immigration officer. The jurors' names were not revealed in court.

Six of the jurors are people of color, including two Filipino men, an Ethiopian man and a Pakistani woman. Noor is Somali American; Damond was white.

Twelve of those selected will end up deciding the case while four will be alternates. The 12 jurors who will deliberate will be picked at the trial's conclusion.

One woman who was picked as a juror had an emotional reaction to the case last week and was asked to think over the weekend about whether she could serve on the jury. She said Monday she had some anxiety about the responsibility.

"There's a huge life-altering decision that everyone's confronted with and that's overwhelming a little bit," she said. Still, she said she could put her emotions aside and serve.

Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday.

The shooting of Damond, who was dressed in her pajamas, drew international attention. Prosecutors say there is no evidence Noor faced a threat that justified deadly force, while Noor's attorneys plan to argue that he acted in self-defense.

Damond, a 40-year-old life coach who was set to be married the month after her death, called 911 twice before Noor and his partner that night, Officer Matthew Harrity, arrived.

Harrity told investigators he was driving a police SUV when he heard a voice and a thump and caught a glimpse of someone outside his window. Harrity said he was startled and thought his life was in danger. He said he then heard a noise and turned to see that Noor, in the passenger seat, had fired his gun past Harrity and hit Damond through the driver's side window.

The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and there was no squad car video.

Noor has refused to talk to investigators and his attorneys haven't said whether he will testify.

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