The shooting of Justine Ruszczyk and trial of former officer Mohamed Noor

Jury seated in Noor trial; arguments start Tuesday

Mohamed Noor arrives for the first day of trial.
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, center, is accompanied by his attorneys Peter Wold, left, and Thomas Plunkett, right, as he arrives for the first day of his trial for the killing of Justine Ruszczyk inside of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on April 1, 2019.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated 1:40 p.m. | Posted 12:01 a.m.

A jury has been seated in the trial of Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis police officer facing charges in the shooting death of 911 caller Justine Ruszczyk.

Jurors include a night manager at a grocery store, a Minneapolis firefighter, a railroad engineer, a carpenter who writes on the side, a gynecologist, an immigration officer, an investment consultant and a retired computer analyst.

There are 12 men and four women, including alternates. Six appear to be people of color.

Opening arguments will start Tuesday.

Noor is charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Ruszczyk, also known as Justine Damond, in July 2017. She had called 911 to report what she thought was an assault happening behind her home.

Investigators say Noor, one of the responding police officers, shot Ruszczyk through the open driver's side window of the squad.

Inside the courtroom at Mohamed Noor's trial on Monday, April 2, 2019.
This sketch shows inside the courtroom for ex-Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor's trial on Tuesday.
Nancy Muellner for MPR News

Judge Kathryn Quaintance has said the trial could last up to a month.

It began last week with jury selection. Although the judge asked for the jurors to be interviewed as a large group, attorneys requested individual interviews with more than two dozen prospective jurors.

The defense started interviewing the group of 24 potential jurors on Thursday. Their questioning, which aimed at whether jurors could presume Noor's innocence and whether they had implicit bias against him, stretched into late Friday afternoon.

By the end of the day on Friday, 25 potential jurors had been excused in the case. Some were excused for anti-Somali statements, but others were excused because they could not find child care or couldn't afford to skip a paycheck for the duration of the trial.

Others said they had already made their minds up about the case or that they could not fairly consider the court's evidence.

Both prosecutors and Noor's attorneys have filed witness lists with the court as of Friday.

Noor's attorneys list only three witnesses, while prosecutors list more than eight pages of people they may call to testify, including dozens of Minneapolis police officers.

Who's on the jury?

Here are details on the 16 jurors chosen for the Noor trial. The information comes from questionnaires as well as from their initial questioning by the trial lawyers.

• A younger man who works as an overnight manager at a grocery store. During questioning, he said he's used to resolving conflicts with coworkers and listens to concerns. His first impression of Noor was "just how calm he was."

• A man who appears to be indigenous. He spoke to attorneys about his experience with bias. He works as a civil engineer.

• A writer and a carpenter. "Truth has no rank" he wrote on his questionnaire according to one of the defense attorneys interviewing him during initial questioning. "Is the truth a process at times?" defense attorney Thomas Plunkett asked, to which he answered, "yes."

• A gynecologist who spoke to attorneys about bias she's faced as a person of color in her profession. People assume she's a nurse or a lab technician and challenge her knowledge as a physician.

• A young man who works as a restaurant host. He said he immigrated here from the Philippines. He said he's aware of incidents of police shootings through social media, especially involving black men.

• A man who said he immigrated from Ethiopia and works with surgical tools at a hospital.

• A firefighter and paramedic who said he knew three people on the prosecution's witness list. He said he works closely with Minneapolis police but thinks he would be fair.

• A man who says he immigrated from the Philippines and now works for the Department of Homeland Security as an immigration officer who adjudicates cases.

• A man who works in financial services. In questioning about bias in the criminal justice system, he said "I believe it is possible that it exists and that there is data to support it" but that his job as a juror is to focus on the facts of this case.

• An electrical foreman. He said he has military experience and has served on another jury in the past.

• A baker who leads groups on addiction and mental health. He's previously worked with people with special needs.

• A woman who works in a dental clinic. She said she immigrated from Pakistan.

• A woman who is a retired computer analyst who worked at Wells Fargo.

• A man who was concerned that he isn't qualified to serve on the jury in this case. The judge reassured him that he will come to a decision with the other members of the jury.

• A man who works as a software developer. He said in his questionnaire that the criminal justice system can be unfair. But during questioning he said that the justice system is imperfect, but that he believes in it.

• A woman who was laid off from her job in March. She is a gun owner who hunts deer and shoots clay pigeons for sport. She said that she would generally give police officers who testify more credit than civilians and that she would find it difficult to convict a police officer. But under questioning from the judge, she said she could be fair.