Lawyers representing Minneapolis ex-Police Officer Mohamed Noor, who is Black, failed on Friday to inspect a police vehicle under similar moonlight conditions as when he fatally shot an unarmed woman–even though the court granted the defense team access to a squad car.
The window of opportunity to examine a police SUV was on Dec. 28 between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. But a Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson said on Saturday morning that Noor’s legal team “did not show,” KSTP-TV reported.
Noor was charged with second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, in the death of Justine Ruszczyk in July 2017. A trial is scheduled in Minneapolis in April.
Noor’s defense team reportedly wanted to conduct its examination on Friday night because the moon was expected to be in the same phase as it was on the night Noor killed Ruszczyk.
Ruszczyk had called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley behind her Minneapolis home. Noor shot her when she approached the squad car’s driver side window, firing his weapon past his partner who was behind the wheel, according to prosecutors.
The defense team has argued that Noor could not get a fair trial in Minneapolis. They pointed to all the media attention to the case, as well as Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s comments against Noor that could taint prospective jurors.
Ruszczyk’s family, of course, has demanded accountability and answers in the tragedy. The fatal shooting of Ruszczyk, 40, prompted protests and reactions from her fiance, relatives, friends and even Valerie Castile, the mother of St. Paul, Minnesota police shooting victim Philando Castile.
Prosecutors have already argued that Noor had a “depraved mind” and released excerpts of Noor’s training and psychological records as what they said was proof of him being unfit to be an officer. It was unclear how much of that evidence the judge will allow the prosecutor to present during the upcoming trial.
In the court order allowing Noor’s legal team to examine the squad car, the judge permitted the team only to conduct the examination “at or near” the police precinct—not at the crime scene.
It’s unclear whether the court will grant Noor’s team a second chance to conduct its investigation.