MINNEAPOLIS – A judge and attorneys winnowed the jury pool Wednesday for the murder trial of a former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home.
Another four prospective jurors were excused from the trial of Mohamed Noor in the afternoon. A retired school principal was let go after she questioned why police would have to shoot someone. A young woman was told she could leave after saying she identified with the victim, Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual Australian-U.S. citizen who had approached Noor’s squad car after summoning police to the alley behind her home.
Two men were excused after saying they would face financial hardships if they stayed for a trial that could last three to four weeks.
Noor, 33, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the July 2017 death of Damond, a life coach who was engaged to marry a Minneapolis man. Noor has declined to speak to investigators, but his attorneys plan to argue that he acted in self-defense.
Attorneys and the judge agreed to excuse five potential jurors Wednesday morning based on their written answers to questions such as their experiences with a person of Somali heritage. Noor is Somali American. One of the dismissed jurors wrote that Noor “shouldn’t have been a cop” and should be “punished.”
Another prospective juror, a young man whose uncle was shot in a gas station robbery, was questioned in court and excused after saying his family members are hunters but that he found it “hard to understand why anyone would fire a weapon at another human and take their life.”
A total of 16 potential jurors have been excused so far. A pool of 75 potential jurors filled out questionnaires Monday. Jury selection continues Thursday.