Editorial: With Noor, let due process take its course

Daily Editorial Board

On July 15, 2017, Justine Damond was fatally shot by then Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor after she had called 911 to report a possible assault outside in southwest Minneapolis. This news shocked the Twin Cities, especially after the police shooting of Philando Castile in 2016.

With raw feelings and cries for change emanating from every corner of the city, former Minneapolis Chief of Police Janeé Harteau resigned based on former Mayor Betsy Hodges’ recommendation, who had apparently lost faith in Harteau months before the shooting. As we fast forward to the past week, both Harteau and Hodges are distant memories of the last administration while the new mayor, Jacob Frey, attempts to tackle problems regarding policing and is working with Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo to solve those problems. 

While new Minneapolis leadership been established, the incident continues to be resolved, as Noor was just charged by Hennepin County attorneys. The charges were handed down on March 20, over 8 months after the incident occurred. The charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter are the first of their kind for officer-involved police shootings, and some organizations and communities are calling foul play on behalf of prosecutors on account of Noor’s race. The Somali-American Police Association defended Noor upon the charges being brought forth, calling the charges, “baseless and politically motivated, if not racially motivated as well.” Other members of the Minneapolis community have supported the prosecutors, such as former president of the St. Paul NAACP Nathaniel Khaliq, who stated that he hopes “it lowers the threshold for officers to be charged in deadly shootings.” 

Although charges were just brought against Noor, many are assuming that racial factors played a part in the charges. The suspicion of racism is somewhat justified when we consider the fact that Noor is only the second officer that has faced charges of this nature in Minneapolis after Jeronimo Yanez, Philando Castile’s shooter. 

However, these are just charges. Noor will still be afforded the full attention of the U.S. justice system as he heads for court. As we continue to follow in the case, we must consider this when thinking about racial factors surrounding the incident and the charges. Although it is always important to consider and question our justice system, it is equally important that this case, and every pending case, be afforded the same objectivity. The trial might indict or clear Noor of guilt, but an objective look at evidence is the most effective method of finding out. Since this is a jury trial, we ought to have more faith in the justice system instead of abruptly blaming charges on racism.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated where Justine Damond was shot. It occurred in southwest Minneapolis.