Noor trial evidence can be viewed, judge says

Published 4:21 pm Monday, May 13, 2019

By Jon Collins

MPR News/90.1

Despite pressure from prosecutors, the judge who presided over the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor has ruled that the public and journalists will be allowed to view evidence presented at Noor’s trial. But Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance has not yet decided whether to allow journalists or members of the public to copy or obtain copies of exhibits.

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Noor was convicted last month of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the July 2017 killing of Justine Ruszczyk. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on June 7.

In a filing on Friday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office urged the judge to restrict how the evidence could be released, citing concerns that it might affect Noor’s sentencing or appeal of his conviction. Prosecutors also argued that there was potential for “misuse of highly-sensitive material without the broader context of why the material was relevant and how it was received at trial.”

Nearly 300 exhibits were entered into evidence at the trial, according to the court. They include extensive reports about the shooting written by use-of-force-experts, forensic analysis and video footage of emergency responders trying to save Ruszczyk’s life. Evidence presented at trial exposed missteps by Minneapolis police on the night of the shooting, and by state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators in the months afterwards.

A coalition of journalism organizations, including MPR News and the Star Tribune, are pushing for evidence from the trial to be available to the public. Quaintance set a deadline of May 16 for journalism organizations or members of the public to weigh in on the issue.

During the trial, Quaintance tried to block journalists and members of the public from viewingsome evidence presented to the jury, including graphic videos that she said were “crucial” to the case. She backed down after a coalition of journalism organizations challenged the ruling.