Betsy Hodges, Bob Bennett, field training program, Justine Damond, Matthew Harrity, Mohamed Noor, police trainees
The Justine Damond case proceeds on two tracks: the criminal trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor for her murder, and the civil suit filed by Attorney Bob Bennett, acknowledged as the expert on successfully suing the Minneapolis Police Department. It is often civil suits that produce the most revealing information through the discovery process, including forced production of documents, policies, depositions and related evidence.
I have long speculated—the SMM Justine Damond archive is available here–-that Noor was hired primarily because he was black and Somali, not because he was an excellent, representative example of the qualities any police agency would be delighted to have in a recruit. There have been persistent rumors that Noor’s training was truncated—put on a “fast track”—and that obvious, perhaps glaring, psychological and performance issues were ignored.
Then-Mayor Betsy Hodges went to ridiculous lengths to ingratiate herself with the Somali community, and to praise the wonder and glory of Noor joining the force. The theme seems to have been one common to progressivism: having a black foreigner as a police officer not only dramatically improved the MPD, it made life better for all Minneapolis citizens. Such are the wonders of diversity. That Noor is also Muslim must have sent Hodges and her minions into paroxysms of orgasmic bliss. Such are the wonders of inclusion.
But now, documents produced in the pre-trial phase suggest my concerns were well founded. Please understand, gentle readers, I don’t think myself amazingly prescient. Understanding the world of police work, my concerns were merely logical reflections on experience and human nature. Anyone acting as Noor did almost surely had serious psychological and training deficiencies, which the former and current chiefs, and city officials, seemed desperate to cover up. Keep in mind the Minneapolis Star Tribune is notorious for its unabashed progressive slant, so even though the information I’m about to present is devastating to Noor and his supporters, it’s likely there is far more, and far worse, the Strib—as it’s commonly locally known—is concealing:
Revelations about Noor’s past were introduced by Hennepin County prosecutors on Wednesday in response to a motion by defense attorneys to dismiss the third-degree murder and manslaughter charges filed against him in Damond’s death.
According to prosecutors, Noor was flagged by two psychiatrists during the pre-hiring evaluation in early 2015 after he exhibited an inability to handle the stress of regular police work and unwillingness to deal with people, according to the records.
This is the kind of thing that must have been known before Noor’s first day of training. Police agencies do all of their psychological testing before making an offer of employment. As I’ve previously reported, the amount, and likely the quality, of that testing was severely curtailed, and Noor was not the only beneficiary of that curtailment. In a professional agency, an agency not determined to place diversity over safety, someone like Noor would have never been hired based on his psych results alone.
The report went on to say that Noor was more likely than other police candidates to become impatient with others over minor infractions, have trouble getting along with others, to be more demanding and have a limited social support network. They showed he ‘reported disliking people and being around them.’ And yet, since Noor exhibited no signs of a major mental illness, chemical dependence or personality disorder, he was deemed ‘psychiatrically fit to work as a cadet police officer for the Minneapolis Police Department,’ the filing said. Given the inconsistencies in the report, a civilian human resources employee followed up with the psychiatrist two weeks later, seeking clarification. The psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Gratzer, stood by his recommendation.
his self-reported disinterest in interaction with other people is very uncommon among other police officer candidates.
The irony inherent in that sentence is truly world-class. Perhaps that should have raised a bit of concern? “Disinterest in interaction with other people” is a textbook reason for disqualifying any police candidate. In Noor’s case, it may well have indicated a cultural issue that could not be overcome. Again, what we’re hearing from the Strib is almost certainly the information least damaging to Noor and the progressive cause. Suffice it to say that a candidate that “reported disliking people and being around them,” would, in a competent agency, be politely thanked for their interest, and shown the door.
Consider too the criteria the MPD employed: Noor had “no signs of a major mental illness”? Lesser mental illnesses are acceptable in Minneapolis police officers? Apparently people that don’t like human beings and dislike being around them, that are impatient over nothing and are unreasonably demanding are just the sort the MPD and its civilian overseers want to give badges and guns, particularly if they’re of the right race, background and religion. Obviously, diversity and inclusion also encompass people manifestly unsuited to be police officers. In the Damond case, we see how that progressive article of faith worked out. The psych evaluation was not, by far, the only predictor of trouble:
Elsewhere in the filings, one training officer noted in a report that on Noor’s third to last training shift in the spring of 2016, he at times didn’t want to take calls, instead driving in circles when he could have assigned himself to them. The calls were for simple matters, such as a road hazard or a suspicious vehicle where the caller was unsure of whether the car was occupied.
In another instance, an officer noted that Noor told a 911 caller that he would follow up on a report of a possible burglar, but never did. The field training officer later said that it bothered her that Noor never bothered to check the area, because police are bound to ‘do our due diligence on this job.
In competent agencies, field training programs—AKA on the job, closely supervised training—require daily written evaluations of the attitudes, public interactions, competence and overall performance of every trainee. Among my many assignments, I was a field training officer. Any trainee refusing to take calls, failing to follow up on promises made to citizens, and failing to do far more than the minimum required by any duty situation, would be cause for immediate corrective action, and if the right, professional adjustments were not immediately made by that trainee, they would be fired. Such is the entire purpose of a field training program, to ensure every trainee is fully competent to effectively do their job before they are released to patrol by themselves. Any trainee should understand they are being constantly watched and evaluated. A trainee that does not do their best to impress their training officers is, by itself, a huge, brightly flashing, red warning sign. Does such a person not care? Are they stupid? Do they think their ethnicity excuses them from minimal job requirements? All of the above?
The documents also outlined the events leading up to the shooting, saying that Noor had gone from his off-duty job of working seven hours of security at a Wells Fargo branch to his shift, which went from 4:15 p.m. to 2:15 a.m. the following morning.
Prosecutors said the shift included a report of a woman with dementia wandering at the area of 50th and Xerxes. An hour and a half later Damond would call 911 from the same location to report a woman in distress. In both cases, multiple 911 calls were made in an effort to have police arrive more quickly, and in both, the officers cleared the call in minutes without investigating further.
All police officers know fellow officers that are lazy, even dangerous. There are always officers that will avoid work, that will do the absolute minimum, even shirk their duty, whenever they can get away with it. Such officers drive around for eight hours—mostly—are never proactive, and when given a call, make only a pretense of properly handling it. Noor and Harrity appear to have been in that category, as I explained in detail in Update 22, which explains recently released documents outlining their laziness, tactical incompetence and deadly stupidity.
Prosecutors said ‘there is no evidence’ that Noor saw Damond or tried to warn his partner that he’d drawn his gun and was preparing to fire. Nor, they continued, did he attempt to tell ‘anyone to stand back, show their hands, or identify themselves.’
‘He made no attempt to identify a threatening situation, let alone de-escalate one,’ the motion said. If the defendant had made an inquiry into the circumstances, he would have realized Ms. Ruszczyk was an unarmed woman who had called 911 twice to report a possible crime, and who wanted to speak to him and Officer Harrity before they drove away, having conducted only the most cursory, less-than-two-minute investigation into her calls.
As I’ve previously noted, the known evidence indicates both Noor and Matthew Harrity were scared to death by the entirely non-threatening appearance of Damond at Harrity’s door. Noor blindly fired, having no idea at what he was firing or why. It would be interesting to know if Noor had to change his pants after shooting Damond. An involuntarily emptied bladder often accompanies abject, unreasoning terror.
A day before the filings, a Hennepin County judge denied a request by Noor’s defense team to file a motion to suppress his medical records under seal in his upcoming trial, saying it does not reach the threshold to keep the request out of the public eye.
Information yet to come will be even more interesting, and damaging to Noor, the MPD and the City. Remember too that it has been reported that Noor had several unresolved citizen complaints/disciplinary investigations. Doubtless, the nature of these will eventually be revealed. Twin Cities.com reports on what may have been one of them:
Just two months before the shooting, Noor was involved in a traffic stop in which he and another officer pulled over a motorist for a minor traffic violation. Noor, who was driving the squad car, got out with his gun drawn. As he approached the motorist, ‘the first thing he did was point his gun at the driver’s head,’ prosecutors said. The other officer also had his gun drawn, but did not point it at the driver. Neither officer documented their display of force.
‘As in this case, the defendant used his gun to escalate a situation, introducing the element of deadly force in what should have been a routine, safe encounter with an unarmed citizen,’ prosecutors wrote.
I suggest this may have caused a citizen complaint, because if Noor and his partner—we don’t know if it was Harrity—did not document this incident, it was likely brought to the attention of the MPD by the citizen that found himself–for no discernible reason–staring down the barrel of Noor’s handgun.
In any professional agency, this kind of behavior would have caused, at the very least, an immediate suspension, a full investigation, and significant discipline in the unlikely event the officer was not fired. Anyone reacting this way to a routine, non-threatening situation must be seen as a danger to himself and others, and someone likely to get others killed, to say nothing of making the agency liable for huge payouts for wrongful retention. This case—and I suspect there are more—will be a large factor in the city’s liability. It will be reasonably argued that the MPD should have dealt with Noor then and there, and if they had, Justine Damond would still be alive. There is no counter argument, not that virtue signaling diversicrats won’t try to come up with one.
Noor is also the subject of two lawsuits wending through federal court, including a $50 million wrongful death suit filed by Damond’s family, alleging that Noor and Harrity conspired to cover up evidence by not turning on their body cameras during the encounter. Legal experts have said the Damond suit could produce a record payout.
That is surely in the running for understatement of the decade. Scott Johnson of Powerline,who has been kind enough to link to some of my Damond coverage, also covered these developments:
I spoke with Minneapolis attorney Bob Bennett about the complaint he filed on Tuesday in connection with the death of Justine Damond at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor. Bob represents the plaintiff trustee for the next of kin in the case. I’ve known Bob as a dogged and straightforward attorney from the first time I met him at the rosy dawn of our legal careers. Since then Bob has become the go-to Minnesota plaintiff’s lawyer in police misconduct cases.
Bob told me yesterday that the use of deadly force in this case is ‘the worst [he’s] seen’ since he took his first such a case in 1980. He paused to do the arithmetic for me: ‘That’s 38 years.
I agree. Usually with police shootings, there is at least an arguable case in favor of the officer. The Tamir Rice case, wherein Rice, a very large and much older looking 12 year old, pointed an entirely realistic appearing airgun at police officers and was shot and killed, is a case in point. It was a horrible situation, but those officers responded properly and within the law to a deadly threat. That the gun later turned out to be fake is immaterial. Considering what the officers knew at the time, what any reasonable officer might know, they did what they had to do. But in the Noor case, all of the evidence I’ve seen to date reveals the officers did everything wrong, and there was no justification–at all–for shooting Justine Damond. There is no argument, no excuse, for Noor’s actions. If there were, officers are allowed to shoot and kill based on the slightest perception, or possible perception, of movement, sight or sound–not a clear and imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death–without having any idea at what they shoot or why.
By all means, take the link and read the rest of Johnson’s article, which is a good exposition of the legal issues involved.
More to come.
Thanks for continuing to cover this case. Another Democrat has succeeded Hodges as mayor of Minneapolis which means that ” all cultures are equal” will continue in that doomed metropolis.
Mike McDaniel said:
I hate to say it, but until these settlements and/or damage awards directly impact the police themselves, there doesn’t seem to be much incentive to change anything.
Karl, only recently I was revisiting the idea of citizen oversight of police departments and the resistance to oversight from the PD, their unions, retired officer associations, even city councils. After months of haggling it grows ever more weary. So the oversight proponents go back into the woodwork. Every single time, like the same old play, you know how it ends.
I was thinking why do they fade away? It is because they seek the permission of those recognized authorities (named above). I was thinking there is the problem! Who are they to tell the citizen that they cannot do such a thing. yet the larger problem lies within the citizen; why do they think they must seek permission in the first place?
What makes this germane here is that you propose the individual officer pay from his own pocket for his own gross misdeeds, that ‘qualified immunity; is not a catch-all.
There exists a quid pro quo between departments, agencies, councils, unions, basically every part of govt with a common opponent of the public. That will not change until the citizen regains the power over government hence the oversight.
And that leads to the citizenry becoming informed. Even then not every citizen will have the time or energy to carry through on such oversight. So a committee must be formed. A non-governmental committee. Not a shadow as in operating in the recesses of darkness but to watch every move. And to attend every City Council meeting and every Board of Supervisors meeting. And where those govt agencies are recalcitrant, to use FOIA and other means, even court orders.
To ensure good government.
Mike McDaniel said:
Actually, we have civilian oversight. Civilians vote for city council folk, who hire people like police chiefs and retrain ultimate power over them. The issue is whether it is wise to establish review boards comprised mostly, or entirely, of citizens. Generally speaking, that’s not a good idea, particularly in places where such boards would be stacked with “community activists” determined to destroy effective policing for political gain.
Mike McDaniel said:
In a progressive paradise like Minneapolis, it will take far more than that. After all, payouts come from the taxpayers, and progressives are always willing to spend their money like there is no tomorrow.
Keep up the good work.
Is the identity of Noor’s Field Training Officer known?
Since you mention that Harrity too was terrified, are his 1) training records, 2) time on the force made public/entered into the record of the criminal and/or civil case?
Also, is it implied that two lazy officers were paired together? Is it ‘company culture’, a systemic tolerance, a union-led initiative, collective bargaining perk, a lowering of an already low standard? Of course I am guessing but it has to be explained somehow.
Do I have this straight? Noor works seven hours at Wells Fargo then pulls a ten hour shift with Harrity on the night he shot Damond?
Last, as far as i can tell, only Aesop at Raconteur Report is writing about officer Amber Guyger of Dallas PD. Do you plan to pick up on this?
Mike McDaniel said:
Thanks, and we don’t know the name of the FTO at the moment. I’m sure Mr. Bennett will be able to get Harrity’s records as well, if he has not done so already.
I suspect two such inexperienced officers were partnered primarily because the MPD doesn’t have enough experienced people. Such apparently lazy behavior is a matter too complex to go into in a comment, but perhaps I’ll address it soon.
As to the Guyer case, I’ve not heard of it, but I’ll give it a look.
If you look back at some of the previous updates, there was an article on the way police officer candidates were evaluated. Minneapolis was not getting a diverse enough selection of acceptable candidates starting in the 1990’s. So they fired the psychological evacuator each time, and hired someone that would approve a sufficient number of diverse candidates. The evaluators also cut back on the number of psychological tests and evacuations they did, from five to two with the last person they chose to basically rubber stamp the candidates.
It sounds like the Minneapolis City Council and the MPD got exactly what they wanted.
I hate spell check.
It was update #14.
I disagree about the Tamir Rice case. The senior police officer was driving and drove the squad car across the grass directly up to Tamir Rice. When the other officer got out of his squad, Mr. Rice was so close to him, that the only acceptable action the poor schmuck officer had was to shoot the kid when he started pointing the toy gun at him.
He was forced by his idiot partner to make a split second decision, and kill the kid.
Of course no one ever blamed the other officer that forced the entire situation through his terrible tactics.
Mike McDaniel said:
If you’ll take the link and read my article on the case, you’ll find we don’t disagree. One can argue–as I did–that the officers involved could have used better tactics, but that supposition does not ensure the incident would have ended differently, or render their actions unlawful. All of us, police officers included, can usually do better in whatever we do, but thank goodness, perfection is not required. What is required is what a reasonable police officer would have done under the same circumstances.
Mike W. said:
It’s sad to describe it this way but he has TYPICAL 3rd world sh*t hole country “attitude” and complete lack of concern for doing a decent job ONCE you have the power/gun.