Noor trial: BCA agent frustrated that MPD provided little information in early investigation

In his testimony at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor Tuesday, a special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension expressed frustration that the police department provided such little information in the early stages of the investigation into the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017. 

Noor is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Damond after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home in south Minneapolis.

The BCA was the organization that handled the investigation into the officer-involved shooting. Special agent Chris Olson took the stand Tuesday to testify about the investigation. 

Prosecutors have previously presented the idea of a “blue wall of silence” to the jury. Earlier in the trial, prosecutors claimed 20 Minneapolis police officers refused to speak with state investigators and the only way to compel them to speak was through a subpoena in the grand jury process. They said five months after the shooting, the BCA had only been able to interview two officers: Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, and Sgt. Shannon Barnette, the incident commander. 

In addition to his frustrations with the police department, Olson also raised frustrations that the BCA’s initial interview with Harrity was held at the home of Harrity’s attorney. Olson said the optics are bad. 

Prosecutors also called a forensic scientist from the BCA’s firearm division to the stand, who confirmed that testing showed the fatal bullet was fired from Noor’s Glock 17 handgun. 

It also came up in testimony that the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office asked the BCA to conduct a shooting exercise from inside an MPD squad car at range. A special agent fired through the open driver window, across a mannequin serving as the driver, to mimic how Noor reached across Harrity to shoot Damond. 

It is not clear what the results of the shooting exercise found, but Noor’s defense team entered the photos from the exercise into evidence for the trial. 

One new theory was thrown into the case Tuesday about what Justine Damond heard in her alley. A BCA agent noted that a neighbor raised the possibility it could have been a family of raccoons. The agent said on the stand that he did not interview the raccoons. 

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