Noor's lawyers explain no show for police car inspection

Mohamed Noor enters the Hennepin County Government Center
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor enters the Hennepin County Government Center with his attorneys Peter Wold, left, and Thomas Plunkett, right, in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Lawyers for former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor expressed frustration in a court filing Wednesday at how the court handled their request to inspect a police car for an independent investigation into the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk.

According to court records, defense attorney Peter Wold contacted the Minneapolis Police Federation for access to a squad car. He was told that it would be available on Dec. 28 for the defense and an expert witness. But on Dec. 24, Wold learned that he'd need a court order. He filed a motion last week to ask for access to a squad car near the scene of the shooting on Dec. 28, noting that the moon phase would've been the same as it was on the night of the shooting July 15, 2017.

Wold's language regarding the moon was "unartful," the objection filing states, adding that light from the moon's illumination was set to be the same.

The court quickly scheduled a hearing on the matter. Hennepin County prosecutors were given a chance to respond in writing, but they did not. However, the filing Wednesday says the state directed "their agents" not to cooperate with the defense, something that was resolved at the hearing.

Last week, the City of Minneapolis submitted a letter with some objections. For example, it objected to the defense naming specific police officers to be present during the investigation.

Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance then signed an order granting access to a police SUV for four hours last Friday, but with limitations based on the feedback she received. She said the defense could do the inspection at the police precinct, not where Ruszczyk was shot behind her south Minneapolis home. A different police representative than originally requested was to be present. The defense was prohibited from interviewing Minneapolis police staff on any topics unrelated to the squad car.

In the end, the defense attorneys did not show up for the inspection, noting that the limitations made any access "meaningless."

"The court's order gelded the defense investigation," defense attorneys Peter Wold and Thomas Plunkett wrote in the objection filed Wednesday. "The process forced the defense to openly discuss their investigation plan and theories of the case."

Noor is charged with second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting of Ruszczyk who had called 911 to report a possible assault. He has not yet entered a plea.

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