Saturday 17 June 2023

Garland Decries Racism, Excessive Force On Minneapolis Police Force, Cites Key Case Without Noting Victim Was White

 U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday discussed the results of the DOJ’s investigation into alleged racism and excessive force by the Minneapolis Police Department in the years leading up to George Floyd’s death but cited the killing of a white woman by a minority officer without mentioning their races.

In April 2021, in the wake of the murder conviction of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of Floyd, Garland announced he was launching an investigation into “potentially systemic” problems inside the department.

“We found that MPD unlawfully discriminates against black and Native America people in its enforcement activities,” Garland said. “Such conduct is deeply disturbing and it erodes the community’s trust in law enforcement.”

Although Garland cited other pre-Floyd cases, he also mentioned the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk, 40, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen who called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home. And while Garland did not cite Ruszczyk’s death as an example of racism, he also failed to note in his public comments that she was white and the police officer who killed her, Mohamed Noor, was a person of color. Noor was initially convicted of murder, but the charge was downgraded to manslaughter after an appeal.

“MPD officers discharge firearms at people without assessing whether the person presents any threat let alone a threat that would justify deadly force,” Garland said, citing the shooting of Ruszczyk as an example.

The case shocked the nation three years before Floyd’s death. Although police were not wearing body cameras, as police in Minneapolis have to manually turn them on, witnesses told police that police officers arrived at 11:30 p.m. Saturday night. The sequence of events was captured, in part, by police radio.

Ruszczyk approached the police car in her pajamas and addressed the driver when Noor reportedly pulled out his gun and shot her through the driver’s door. According to one source, when Noor opened fire, his partner was “stunned.”

Noor, who faced a maximum 12.5-year prison sentence, later asked the court for a sentence in which he would serve two weeks in prison each year. The Daily Mail reported that Noor’s attorneys suggested that Noor serve one week in a low-security prison annually to “honor” her birthday and one week to mark her day of death.

“This sentence honors the memory of Ms. Rusczcyk and allows Mr. Noor to continue to serve the city,” they wrote. “Just as importantly, it mandates that Mr. Noor will continue to consider his action and the great loss they caused.”

Ruszczyk was set to marry American businessman Don Damond, 50, in August 2017.

Three days after his daughter’s death, John Ruszczyk issued a statement calling for the truth about the incident to come to light and justice to be administered. He said:

“We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare, but we awoke to the ugly truth, and it hurt even more. Justine, our daughter, was so special to us, and to so many others,” he said. “We went down to the beach this morning, and saw the blackness change to light. Justine was a beacon to all of us. We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstance of her death.

Ruszczyk’s fiancĂ©, Don Damond, stated tearfully, “The death of Justine is a loss to everyone who knew her. She touched so many people with her loving and generous heart. She was a teacher to so many in living a life of openness and kindness.”

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