MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor heard testimony Wednesday morning from the 17-year-old bicyclist who witnessed the moments before and after the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond and captured the scene on his cell phone.
The bicyclist was riding his bicycle along 51st Street in south Minneapolis on July 15, 2017. As he pedaled east towards the alley between Xerxes Avenue and Washburn Avenue, he spotted Noor and Officer Matthew Harrity’s squad car.
It is his recollection the officers were outside the vehicle and that the woman, Damond, had a cell phone in one hand up to her ear. He said her second arm was raised above her shoulder.
The teenager admitted he was nervous, having smoked some pot and drank some whiskey earlier that night. He was wearing headphones and carrying some weed to a friend’s house when he heard the single shot.
The bicyclist acknowledged to both sides that his memory of the night is spotty. His story appeared to change multiple times in various interviews since the incident.
Local criminal defense attorney Marsh Halberg was in the courtroom for the conflicting testimony that differs wildly from the accepted facts of the case that Noor fired from inside the vehicle.
“Were the officers in the squad? Out of the squad? Who was doing what? It was all very inconsistent,” Halberg said. “At the end of the day, there’s not much weight to put on his testimony.”
While the jury will have to weigh the value of his testimony, they did watch a 30-second video the young man shot on his cell phone. The video shows Harrity standing over Damond. Noor is seen taking a couple steps towards the witness, who asks, “What is going on here?” Noor tells him he can keep recording, but asks him to step to the side.
It was the court’s first time seeing the immediate aftermath of the shooting with no other emergency responders on scene. The jury will likely see more video of the aftermath when attorneys show body camera footage from both Noor and Harrity later this week.
Noor shot and killed Damond 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.