MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer who told a fellow officer to “keep your mouth shut” after that officer fatally shot an unarmed woman who had called police to report a possible crime testified Friday that he was merely giving the officer advice.
Officer Jesse Lopez was among several officers to testify at Mohamed Noor’s trial about the night in July 2017 that Noor, 33, shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond after Damond called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home.
Noor is charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of Damond, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen, in a case that shocked both countries. Attorneys for Noor have argued he was reacting to a loud noise and feared an ambush when he shot Damond as she approached his squad car. But prosecutors say there is no evidence of any threat to justify deadly force.
Neither Noor nor his partner that night, Officer Matthew Harrity, had activated their body cameras before Damond was shot. The only body-camera video in the case comes from that gathered by them switching on their cameras after Damond’s death and from officers who arrived at the scene.
That included Lopez, who was recorded telling Noor to “keep your mouth shut until you have to say anything to anybody.”
Lopez testified that he had worked alongside Noor in the city’s 5th Precinct before. He said when he talked to Noor in the minutes after the shooting, he wasn’t ordering him not to talk but rather speaking officer to officer.
“It’s what came to mind to advise him,” Lopez said.
Body-camera footage played Thursday showed Lopez shutting off his camera at certain points, including when he was talking to Noor and later when he spoke with Noor’s supervisor at the scene. Prosecutors have sought to draw the jury’s attention to the inconsistent use of body cameras after Damond was shot.
Another officer, Mark Ringgenberg, testified earlier this week that he also told Noor at the scene not to say anything.
Noor ultimately refused to speak to state Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents who investigated the shooting. It’s not clear whether Noor will testify.
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of Mohamed Noor’s trial.