(FOX 9) - Immediately after the stunning guilty verdicts in the trial of Mohamed Noor, Justine Ruszczyk Damond’s father blasted the Minneapolis Police Department and the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
“We believe the conviction was reached despite the active resistance of a number of Minneapolis police officers, including the head of its union, and either active resistance or gross incompetence of the BCA, particularly at the beginning of the investigation,” John Ruszczyk said.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was also critical of the work done by the BCA, the state’s law enforcement agency tasked with investigating officer-involved shootings.
“Every investigation I’ve been involved with, except Noor, the work was superb,” he said.
Freeman described a rough early stretch in the 2017 probe into the death of Justine Damond, which prosecutors documented in court during Mohamed Noor’s month-long trial.
Freeman said the BCA got it right after the agency eventually brought in new case leadership in Special Agent Brent Petersen.
“It took us longer than it should have to get a strong investigation, but with a strong prosecution, guilty on 2 of 3 counts,” he said.
Going forward, Freeman insists he has confidence in the agency’s work, though it’s been reported that state leaders have at least begun discussions in exploring a different system for investigating officer-involved shootings.
Governor Walz said Wednesday that his office will review the Damond investigation to determine if the BCA can indeed do better.
“We expect those practices to be best practices. We expect them to follow the law and the processes. I need to understand what happened here and what brought up those accusations and to understand whether we can validate them, and if we can, what are the processes to alleviate that,” Walz said.
Statement from BCA Superintendent Drew Evans:
"Justine Ruszczyk Damond's death is a tragedy that should not have occurred. Her family and friends continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.
Officer-involved shooting investigations are among the most challenging conducted by the BCA. Our agents conduct thorough, comprehensive and independent investigations in order to present all the facts to a county attorney for review. In this case, BCA agents did just that, working 2,037 hours and writing over 260 reports while working closesly with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office from the beginning.
Because of a potential appeal, the investigation remains open under Minnesota law. As a result, we are unable to discuss the specifics of how the investigation was conducted at this time."