Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has said more than once he expects to make a decision before the end of 2017 on whether to charge Mohamed Noor, the Minneapolis Police officer who shot and killed Justine Damond in July.
Those public statements aren't good enough for everyone. At a recent holiday party, a group of municipal employees approached Freeman and asked him about the process. It's unclear if the veteran prosecutor knows he's being taped when the conversation starts; the answer he gives is candid, and blunt.
Asked by a man who says they are "wondering what's taking so long," and that they "don't want it to be something like what happend with Jamar Clark," Freeman says the man's asking a "fair question."
"I gotta have the evidence, and I don't have it yet. And let me just say, it's not my fault. So, if it isn't my fault, who didn't do their jobs? It's called investigators. They don't work for me. And they haven't done their job."
Freeman says to charge the officer, he would need to prove that Noor did not "fear for his life" in the "moment he shot the gun." Freeman says Noor "won't answer my questions" and "doesn't have to," under the Fifth Amendment.
"And I can't talk to [Damond]," Freeman says, "because she's gone, and the other cop [Noor's partner] just gave us shit, OK?"
Freeman, who has previously said Damond's death "shouldn't have happened," indicated he sympathizes with public opinion, and of those of the people confronting him.
"But if you look at this -- if you look at this, here’s a nice lady who hears something bad outside, she calls the cops. They don’t come, she calls again. They drive by in her alley, they don’t stop to talk with her, and she comes out in her jammies, and she’s killed by a cop. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But, it's not... Can I prove the cop shot her? I could've done that the first day."
The person filming accuses Freeman of having a higher threshold for filing charges against Noor than he does for "innocent poor people," whom Freeman's office charges "every day."
Freeman continues to engage his interlocutors for several minutes, pointing out his office just got a conviction of Christopher Reiter, the Minneapolis cop who kicked a man in the face, resulting in brain damage. Reiter was sentenced to six months in a workhouse; Freeman observes that his office had "asked for more," but is not in control of sentencing.
Parts of the audio are unintelligible, though Freeman does compliment the people questioning him for being "respectful." At the end of the clip, he tells them he's "not going to make it worse by doing a knee-jerk charge, and say, 'Let the jury decide.'"
Freeman thanks the small crowd for "having some patience," and says, of the decision on Damond's shooting, "Trust me: Nobody wants it done for Christmas more than me. That’ -- that’s the big present I’d like to see under the Christmas tree."
Freeman's office told Minnesota Public Radio it was aware the video exists, but declined to comment on its content, saying only that it was "working diligently on the case to complete the investigation as soon as possible."
Tonight, public employee Union members, People of Color Union Members, and @tcc4j confront Hennepin County Government attorney Mike Freeman to convict MPD officer Noor for the murder of #JustineDamond. Freeman made excuses about "being sure," "not having enough evidence," and "convicting innocent people!" We confronted his lies! Mike, you and the "justice system" convict innocent working and people of color every day! You lied about the evidence regarding the murder of #JamarClark and countless others..... We refute your lies! Freemen couldn't handle the truth and quickly ran for the door of our Union hall!Posted by Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar on Wednesday, December 13, 2017