Freeman to use grand jury in Justine Damond shooting case

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is beginning the process to convene a grand jury in last year's police shooting case of Justine Damond, though according to a statement he still plans to retain decision making power over whether Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor will face charges relating to her death.

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis confirmed Wednesday that several of its members were issued subpoenas related to the case, calling them to testify at some point in the near future.

Freeman, meanwhile, says he won't comment on the proceedings, though he "will continue the office’s two-year-old policy where he makes the decision on whether or not to bring charges in officer-involved shootings," according to a statement. 

GET CAUGHT UP: Latest on Minneapolis police shooting of Justine Damond

Damond was killed by Officer Noor last July in a south Minneapolis alleyway after calling 911 herself to report an assault, rocking a community that's been grappling with the repercussions of several police shootings that have added the victims to a growing list of household names--Jamar Clark, Philando Castile and now Damond.

Noor himself is refusing to speak with investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Crimanal Apprehension, his right under the same Fifth Amendment that protects regular citizens from self-incrimination.

His partner however, Officer Matthew Harrity, gave his account of the incident to the BCA last summer, telling investigators that he and Noor were startled when Damond slapped the back of the squad car they were sitting in. Noor--sitting in the passenger seat--fired across Harrity through the open driver's side window, killing Damond.

It was enough to force the resignation of then-Police Chief Janeé Harteau at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, and attract news coverage across the world--especially in Damond's native Australia, where police shootings are incredibly rare.

Freeman initially said a few months ago that he would make a charging decision by the end of the 2017, later announcing that the investigation would likely last well into the new year. He was caught on camera a few weeks later at a union event blasting investigators for not doing their jobs properly.

“I’ve got to have the evidence and I don’t have it yet,” Freeman told activists at the event. “Let me just say, it’s not my fault. So if it’s not my fault, who didn’t do their job? It’s the investigators. They don’t work for me. They haven’t done their job.” 

Newly christened Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, for his part, says he supports Freeman in his decision to use a Grand Jury, releasing a statement Wednesday on the subject.

"Arriving at the right decision requires the right facts and complete truth," he said. "No institution – including the City of Minneapolis – should stand in the way of uncovering that truth.”