Justine Damond was killed in the alley behind her Minneapolis home late on the evening of July 15 last year. She lived with her fiance in the safest neighborhood in Minneapolis. Having heard sounds of a woman under assault in the alley, she had called 911 for help. A Minneapolis police officer killed her when she went out in her pajamas to meet up with him and his partner. Officer Mohamed Noor shot Justine through the open driver side window of the squad car in which he was riding with Officer Matthew Harrity at the wheel.
The case has received international attention and we have followed it closely on Power Line. Noor isn’t talking. He was charged with third degree murder by the Hennepin County Attorney in March. We posted the criminal complaint and the video of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s press conference here at the time.
Justine’s father, John Ruszczyk, has been appointed the trustee of her “next of kin” for the purpose of bringing a civil lawsuit against the authorities. The family has retained Minneapolis attorney Bob Bennett to represent them in the lawsuit. Yesterday the lawsuit was filed in federal district court here and Bennett held a press conference. I have posted the video of Bob’s press conference below and a copy of the 45-page complaint. The complaint asserts claims against Noor, Harrity, the past and present Minneapolis police chief and the city itself. The Star Tribune story on the lawsuit is here. KSTP’s story here includes a copy of John Ruszczyk’s statement (read by Bennett at the press conference) as well as a link to the complaint that KSTP has posted online.
The Star Tribune story does a poor job of providing any account of the lawsuit. It is almost as though neither of the two reporters on the story has read the complaint.
Bob Bennett is probably the most experienced attorney in town representing plaintiffs in civil lawsuits against police officers for excessive use of force and other misconduct. He wins the cases he takes. This case might be the best one he has ever had. I don’t think it will be tried. I think it will be settled. The discovery, however, should shine a light on the kakistocracy running the show in Minneapolis.
Bob alleges facts by which he intends to undermine the credibility of Officer Harrity and any claim of reasonable force, especially at paragraphs 139-144, 153, and 167-233, but also elsewhere throughout. The complaint asserts the existence of a “blue wall” of silence around the case within the department under the guidance of the police union attorney. The facts alleged regarding the department’s alteration of selection procedures — see, for example, paragraphs 253-284 — are of particular interest.
The complaint asserts four civil rights claims including claims against the officers, the chiefs and the city itself. I thought that readers who have been following the case may want to take a look at the video and the complaint themselves.