Noor trial: 51 fingerprints on squad car, none matched Justine Damond

Special agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension took the stand Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who is charged in the 2017 shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. The BCA was the organization that handled the investigation into the officer-involved shooting. 

Noor is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Damond's death.

The uniforms Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, were wearing at the time of the shooting were both entered as evidence, along with Noor’s gun. Photos show Noor wore his body camera closer to his belly button, while Harrity wore his further up, mid-chest. 

The jury also heard from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Special Agent in charge of the investigation. 

BCA Special Agent Eric Knutson testified Monday as told about the alleged “slap” on the officers’ squad car by another agent at the scene the night of the shooting, but he did not recall specifically who told him. The information about the slap would eventually find its way into a search warrant for Damond’s house.

Prosecutors have expressed doubt that Noor was startled by a loud noise, like a slap or a thump, on the back of his squad car before firing his gun across Harrity through the open window, blaming the BCA for starting that storyline. 

It was also revealed in court Monday morning that prosecutor Amy Sweasy was the one who told the BCA to get Noor’s squad car returned to the BCA some four days after the shooting. By that point, the vehicle had been washed and possibly used for patrol. 

Earlier in the trial, deputy police chief Katherine Waite, who was then the Fifth Precinct inspector, testified that she was frustrated with why Noor’s squad car was allowed to be washed and returned to service so quickly after the shooting. 

The BCA confirmed a blood draw from Noor came back negative for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting. 

Later on Monday, BCA Special Agent Doug Henning testified that he interviewed Noor’s partner, Harrity, three days after the shooting. He clarified that Harrity told him he heard a "loud noise" or a "thump" at back of squad, not a "slap."

An expert on fingerprints testified investigators found 51 latent prints on squad car, but none matched Damond. The defense pointed out that “knuckles” and “back-handed slaps” do not leave fingerprint evidence behind.  

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