MINNEAPOLIS –Today, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo released the below statements following Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s decision to charge Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor with murder and manslaughter for the death of Justine Damond.
Mayor Jacob Frey:
“While nothing can erase the pain felt for Justine Damond’s loss, today’s decision from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman marks a step forward for Don Damond and Justine’s family, her friends and neighbors, and Minneapolis. It is my hope that the assurance that justice is being pursued in a thorough and transparent way offers a small measure of comfort.
“But as we weigh the impact of the County Attorney’s decision to charge, it is important to remember that trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve — especially communities of color — was fractured long before last July. The events of recent years have tested our city in ways that are new to some, but are all too familiar for many neighborhoods across Minneapolis.
“I will be continuing my work with Chief Medaria Arradondo and city leadership on our agenda centered on accountability and fairness for the Minneapolis Police Department. We will continue advancing a concerted and direct effort to reinforce de-escalation training and eliminate unnecessary use of force, work to make sure body cameras are activated when they need to be activated, provide wellness training so officers are in the right state of mind to make fair and unbiased decisions, and hold officers accountable for their actions through progressive discipline. We are committed to doing this work.
“Tonight, though, we reflect on Justine’s life. We hold the countless people and communities whose lives she touched close in our hearts. We celebrate her life, her spirit, and her devotion to helping others.
“Our city stands firmly with Justine’s family, and hope they find peace in a time of grief. Our city stands firmly with our Somali community and against those leveling blame on our beloved neighbors. Our city stands firmly with those officers committed to improving police-community relations. And our city stands firmly with victims of police shootings. Together we must chart a path forward to prevent these tragedies from happening again.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo:
“To Mr. Don Damond, Mr. John Ruszczyk, Ms. Maryan Heffernan, Mr. Jason Ruszczyk, and Justine’s many other family members, friends, and beloved community here in Minneapolis and in Australia, I want to say I AM SORRY. I know that those three words will not bring Justine back, but I want you to know that I am deeply saddened and truly sorry for her death and for your tragic loss.
“Today Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced his charging decision in regards to the Officer Noor shooting, which caused the death of Ms. Justine Ruszczyk-Damond on July 15th, 2017. Mr. Freeman made this decision after careful review of the evidence; we appreciate his careful consideration and respect his decision that outlines charges of Mohamed Noor with Murder 3rd Degree and Manslaughter 2nd Degree.
“This tragic event happened on my watch as Acting Chief. Today, as Chief of Police, I am ultimately responsible for the conduct of the men and women who wear this uniform and badge. Sanctity of life, to include the protection of life, is the cornerstone of our fundamental duties as peace officers.
“As Chief, I am committed to ensuring that myself, and every member of the MPD, learn from this tragedy. It is imperative that we as a Police Department build trust in those places where it did not exist, and increase the trust in those places where it has been shaken.
“I know that the overwhelming majority of the men and women of the MPD are dedicated public servants who are guided by the principles of Procedural Justice; giving community members Voice, and Respect, being Neutral in both our interactions and in our decisions, and building Trust. If there are criticisms or condemnations of the MPD, they should be directed at me. I will learn from this tragedy and I will redouble our department’s efforts to build Trust, hold ourselves Accountable not only to those we serve, but to each other as well, and strive to deliver the most Professional service possible in each and every contact we have. Officer Wellness along with De-Escalation training will continue to be a part of our culture of training and duties.
“My heartfelt thoughts go out to all those who have been impacted by the loss of Justine, and what today’s decision will mean for them.
“Mohamed Noor was hired by the Minneapolis Police Department on March 23rd, 2015, and his end date is March 20th, 2018. At the request of the County Attorney’s Office I delayed any employment related decisions in this matter as to not in any way interfere with the criminal investigation in this case.”