MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - One by one, the prospective jurors for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor are being whittled down. Noor is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
It is common for higher profile cases like this one to take the first week of the trial to pick a jury, with the attorneys being very deliberate due to the amount of information people may already know and opinions that may have already formed.
Twenty-three of the 75 prospective jurors have now been dismissed for cause after one-on-one questioning regarding their answers to a 66-item questionnaire. One juror who was dismissed on Wednesday said she identified with the victim, Damond, and admitted she would find it hard to be impartial. Another juror was dismissed because they questioned why police are trained to shoot to kill, rather than injure.
There are now 52 prospective jurors left, who are being questioned in panels of 24. During the strike phase, the defense can strike five prospective jurors and the prosecution can strike three. They will need to whittle the jury down to 16—12 jurors and four alternates. The alternates do not know they are alternates until just before deliberations begin and they are excused.
Thursday, Noor’s defense attorney Tom Plunkett asked the jurors questions about their life experiences. He emphasized career training and whether they were ready to do their jobs effectively on day one. It appeared to be a strategy aimed at addressing the controversy over Noor’s police training and whether he was fully prepared to wear the badge when he shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017.
Jury selection will resume at 9 a.m. Friday morning.
A hearing will be held on Friday at 3 p.m. to discuss a request by media to make all evidence public. The request was made in response to Judge Kathryn Quaintance's ruling that she does not want to show “sensitive” body camera video and autopsy photos to the public during the trial. The footage includes Noor performing CPR on Damond before she died. Judge Quaintance described it as “highly emotional” and “probably one of the most dramatic moments of the trial.”
At this point, it appears opening statements will begin will be on Monday.