I am, of course, pleased with the outcome of the Mohamed Noor trial. It is a particularly important outcome because it demonstrates that the police are not above the law. A not guilty verdict would have made it easier for incompetent and corrupt cops to actually get away with murder. It would have confirmed a two-tiered justice system: one where citizens were held to the law in the use of deadly force, and a second where police officers could kill on the flimsiest of pretexts, such as: My partner and I were scared senseless because we had no situational awareness, so I shot the first person I saw, just like any reasonable police officer would. As regular readers know, such a system is the status quo in Las Vegas.
The Minneapolis PD, and the BCA did not cover themselves in glory in this case. The BCA appeared incompetent, and if there are any honorable managers in that agency, they had damned well better be asking why an unnecessary, generic and unlawful search warrant was done on Damond’s home, a home that had no connection whatever to Damond’s death. The judge that approved it should be mad as hell the BCA lied to her about probable cause for the warrant—there was none—and that judge’s supervisor had better have a chat with her about gullibly accepting anything the BCA says over the phone. Minnesota jurists, unless they’re incompetent, should be very cautious about believing anything the BCA has to say in the future.
Competent Minneapolis PD officers knew it was a bad shoot, but they dared not say a word. It is not unreasonable for police officers to believe citizens cannot understand the reality of their work—they can’t. But it is unreasonable for them to protect, in any way, an officer who unlawfully kills. That they did, that there was a “blue wall of silence,” did them great damage. It should. The police union was relatively quiet about the matter, which was a smart move in this case, suggesting they knew it was a bad shoot, but a number of officers, particularly Sgt. Shannon Barnette, looked like incompetents and liars.
It would not be unreasonable to think the MPD and the BCA tried, to some degree, to cover up Noor’s crime.
The MPD has a great deal of work to do,not only in updating training, changing policies and procedures, but in overcoming the all too real message of the satiric sign. Minneapolis residents have cause to be wary of MPD officers.
The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald is reporting on the race baiting backlash I knew was inevitable:
He was a sacrificial lamb,’ said Minneapolis resident Alana Ramadan, who like Noor is black and Muslim.
‘This is a travesty of justice – the case was heavily overcharged so they would get something to stick. Not even common criminals are charged like he was.’
The issue of race was addressed directly only once during the trial – at the very end when prosecutor Amy Sweasy defended asking Noor whether he had felt threatened by Ruszczyk’s ‘blonde hair, pink T-shirt, and all’.
But it was race that made this trial so compelling, divisive and fraught.
Actually, Sweasy was making the point that Justine was entirely non-threatening, and that there was sufficient light for Noor to clearly see her blonde hair and pink T-shirt. Race was not present, actually or by implication.
I’ve relied, in part, on the work of Lou Raguse in analyzing this trial. He has posted a fascinating interview with one of the male jurors. It reveals many of the issues on which the press neglected to report, but were determinative factors in the jury’s verdict. It also confirms the jury understood the primary issue in this case: Noor’s actions were entirely unreasonable, and inexcusable. By all means, read the whole thing, but I’ll add a few excerpts to illustrate significant issues.
The juror, who wishes to remain anonymous—good call—noted the jurors only took about 90 minutes to decide Noor was guilty. The rest was a matter of understanding and applying the law, rather than arguing about the minutia about which the media obsessed, about which they apparently did with care:
I would say Manslaughter 2 was probably a little harder to come to. The first vote we had on Murder 3, it actually was unanimous. But we obviously wanted to discuss it before we took an official (final) vote. There were discussions about depraved mind. There was a lot of confusion about that, but in the notes it kind of had a legal definition, then we kind of broke it down line by line. Going through it, ‘OK, does this apply to the Noor case? Does this apply to the Noor case?’ We all agreed that the elements all involved it and eventually we voted guilty on it. I remember the true, true dissent didn’t start until Murder 2.
Because I was not in the courtroom, I couldn’t accurately gauge the effectiveness of witnesses. However, I thought the use of force witnesses presented by the prosecution very effective. I based this on their understanding of the law of the use of force, and their correct interpretation of the rather simple facts of this case. It was convincing to the jury:
I think the prosecution’s expert witnesses really nailed it home. Longo, with his experiences being a Baltimore cop forever. When (Peter) Wold cross-examined him and said something along the lines of, ‘Well how would you know? You’ve never been in that situation.’ And Longo started listing off at least three or four different times he came close to using his weapon. That resonated with us a lot. At that point, when the prosecution got to its expert witnesses, to me I’m not really sure what the defense was trying to do there. Their cross-examination, in our eyes, was not really all that effective.
When the prosecution rested, the defense brought out Noor and brought out their expert (Emanuel Kapelsohn.) Watching Sweasy work on those two on cross was enlightening and painful at the same time because it almost seemed like they didn’t have a plan how to answer her questions. In my opinion, and I can’t speak for everybody in that jury room, but I felt like that case was lost (for the defense) between the two experts witnesses on the prosecution side and Noor and Emanuel Kapelsohn.
The Defense expert witness, Emannuel Kapelsohn, seemed to me to be a prototypical hired gun, a man willing to say whatever he was paid to say regardless of the law and the facts. Noor did his best to try to claim justification by way of training, but he, and everyone else, knew there was no justification. Presumably the MPD does not train officers to shoot as Noor did? The Defense surely understood this, but had no choice. Without his testimony, he was doomed. He was likely doomed with it, but perhaps he could engender enough sympathy to somehow turn the tide? The juror mentioned several things I saw in none of the media accounts:
Kapelsohn always felt a little off. Trying to show photos off his cell phone in the middle of testimony was probably the most embarrassing moment of the trial. Doing crime scene recreations without showing measurements, and the whole lifting the fingers and going “bang,” doing the demonstration of Noor’s weapon and Harrity’s holster was just weird. Plus, his testimony in the other case where he was arguing against almost an identical set of facts did hurt his credibility a little bit.
He tried to show photos on a cell phone?! I wonder if the Defense lawyers knew he was going to make that kind of error? In a case of this importance, everything said and displayed must be carefully considered to give the right impression to the jury. From this juror’s account, had I seen it as well, I could have predicted, then and there, the outcome of the case.
As Scott Johnson of Powerline, who was present for the entire trial, suggested, the jurors generally sympathized with Noor, but they believed Harrity. They didn’t buy Noor’s account of Damond raising her right hand:
Raguse: Do you think Justine raised her right hand the way Noor described it?
Juror: It’s possible. A lot of Noor’s testimony, I don’t want to say we ignored, but we took with a grain of salt because of the discrepancies between his and Harrity’s testimony. Noor’s testimony of the events essentially was a contradiction of Harrity’s. He felt genuine when he was talking about his past and upbringing, but something just felt off when he started talking about the events of that night. Being able to talk about calls and events earlier that night in specific detail but have no recollection of important events afterwards. We didn’t take a lot stock in his testimony because the forensic evidence supported Harrity’s testimony. Sweasy asked him tough questions, yeah, but he really never had any answer besides ‘I was trying to protect my partner/That’s how I was trained/I have no recollection’ and everything just felt off. [skip]
We put more stock in Harrity’s testimony. The forensic testimony with the gunpowder and whatnot supported Harrity’s claim. I’d say we put more stock in Harrity’s testimony. I wouldn’t say we outright discarded Noor’s testimony, but we took it with a heavy grain of salt.
They were very concerned about the BCA and MPD’s credibility. The juror particularly mentioned Sgt. Barnette’s lack of credibility. However, they decided not to worry about the investigation after the shot. He also thought it possible Damond did strike the SUV, but the jury didn’t think that a significant issue, not compared with the lack of justification for the use of deadly force.
Again, read the whole thing. It provides insight I wasn’t able to give you, and that one cannot get without being present for the entire trial.
In this criminal case, justice was done, not because it was the outcome I preferred, but because it was the necessary outcome if the rule of law matters. The police have difficult and occasionally dangerous jobs, but unless they are willing to accept the very real possibility they might have to give their life to save others, or to avoid harming or killing an innocent, they don’t belong in the uniform.
Remaining is sentencing and the civil case. I hope Damond’s father wants the MPD’s apparently negligent, diversity-driven hiring and training processes to be fully exposed. This can only happen if there is a civil trial, with all the discovery and testimony that would allow. The civil filing has made substantive allegations. Discovery would fill in the details, and likely reveal a great deal more malfeasance. Absent that, the leftist ruled City likely will continue to force policies on the police that will result in continuing harm to innocents. They can continue to value “diversity and inclusion” above competence and the safety of the citizens of Minneapolis.
Will there be a trial? I doubt it. The City will surely be desperate to avoid one. I’ve no doubt they are already begging the family to accept a very generous settlement. And the judge may try to encourage the parties to settle, particularly if the city is as desperate to settle as I’m sure they are. But I suspect John Ruszcyk cares much more about exposing the politically correct corruption that contributed to Justine’s death than about the largest possible settlement.
Why would he do that? Without that exposure, without the pain that, and a huge jury award, would impose change is unlikely, and there will be more diversity hires patrolling the streets of Minneapolis, half, or not at all, aware of their surroundings. When they’re spooked, innocents will die.
Justine Damond is beyond caring about this kind of justice, about police accountability, but we can hope the citizens of Minneapolis still care, that the rule of law and public safety mean more to them than Leftist policy purity.
More as it develops. Requiscat in pacem, Justine.