Statement from Mike Freeman regarding officer-involved shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Everyone in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office was saddened by the tragic shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond by a Minneapolis Police Officer on July 15.
We have received some emails and phone calls from members of the community demanding that we charge the officer immediately and ascribing all kinds of nefarious reasons as to why we haven’t done so. The truth is, we are following the same procedure we have with the three previous officer-involved shootings.
That procedure requires a thorough investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to make sure that when we receive the evidence of the case to undertake the charging decision, we have a complete understanding of what occurred before and during the incident. Once the investigation is complete, the file will be turned over to this office and the consideration of whether to charge begins.
In the past, this office would then have convened a grand jury to determine if the officer should be charged with a crime. However, 18 months ago, I broke that precedent and said that from now on, I would make the charging decision, not a grand jury. That allowed for more transparency and accountability regarding the decision. We will follow that practice in this case. So, once the file is turned over to our office, I will thoroughly review the investigation with several of our most senior prosecutors and make a decision.
While I have no way of knowing how long the investigation and review will take, usually from the time of the officer firing the shot until our office’s announcement of a decision, four to six months have elapsed. I fully expect a decision in this case before the end of 2017.