Noor trial: MPD lieutenant defends decision to pair young, inexperienced officers together

The jury in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor heard testimony Friday morning from several Minneapolis Police Department personnel who responded to the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017. 

Noor shot and killed Damond on July 15, 2017 after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her south Minneapolis home. He is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with her death. 

On Friday, Noor’s defense team continued to try to get police witnesses to talk about the importance of relying on their squad partner. Prosecutors responded to one witness, asking, "If your partner opened fire in middle of Lake Street. Would you?" The answer was no. 

In some body camera footage shown in court Friday morning, jurors saw Noor standing up after apparently helping his partner, Matthew Harrity, provide CPR on Damond. It was a quick clip captured by one of the first officers to arrive on the scene.  

Defense attorneys made a point from that video that the responding officer needed a flashlight when he raced into the back of the squad car to find a breathing mask for life-saving efforts. It was another example of Noor’s legal team focusing on the idea that the alley was dark and required additional lighting. 

Lt. Dan May was asked why he paired two young, inexperienced officers, Noor and Harrity, together. May said he like having two young, active officers together. Both liked handling the same workload, jumping in to respond to calls. He said they were more productive than older pairings. 

May added he had absolutely no safety concerns with Noor and Harrity as partners. He had signed off on giving them access and training to carry the precinct's most powerful rifle that not everyone gets. 

After watching May's body cam footage from scene, prosecutors made it a point for him to say the average shooting suspect does not immediately get counsel or union representation after an incident. 

Prosecutors confirm Noor’s partner Harrity will not testify on Friday, but he will testify eventually. Harrity has not spoken to prosecutors, so there has been no witness preparation. Prosecutors have no idea what he will say when he takes the stand. 

Prosecutors also confirmed they will eventually call current Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo as a witness. At the time of the shooting, Arradondo was the assistant chief and was at the scene in the immediate aftermath. FOX 9 footage from the shooting shows him talking with officers. 

Friday afternoon, the defense and prosectuion debated admitting Noor's 2016 performance review into evidence. After some time, the judge eventually barred the review from evidence.

To close out the week in court, MPD Sgt. Robert Lewis was called to the stand. He escorted Noor back to police headquarters after the shooting. 

He told the court that Noor said nothing and only nodded his head when asked if he was OK or needed any water. 

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