GBB’s Robert Bennett, Andrew Noel, Katie Bennett and Marc Betinsky recently reached a settlement of $20 million with the City of Minneapolis on behalf of the family of Justine Maia Ruszczyk. The settlement was approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday, May 3, 2019. The settlement marks the largest settlements of a case involving a fatal shooting. See May 3, 2019 New York Times Article, “Minneapolis to Pay $20 Million to Family of Police Shooting Victim.”
Justine was murdered by Mohamed Mohamed Noor, a Minneapolis Police officer on July 15, 2017. The murder should have been captured on the department issued body worn cameras (“BWCs”) worn by Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity. However, the duo had failed to activate the BWCs in accordance with MPD policy.
Justine had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alleyway behind her home in the Fulton neighborhood of Minneapolis – one of the safest, low call volume areas in the City. Justine was murdered in the same alleyway. She was barefoot, wearing a pink t-shirt with Koalas on it and pink plaid pajama pants. Justine had not committed any crime. She had not displayed any aggression. She was unarmed. She posed no threat to Noor or his partner, Matthew Harrity, or anyone else on the scene. No amount of force against Justine was justified. Yet, Noor shot across Harrity’s lap inside the squad car, striking Justine in the abdomen – killing her.
On April 30, 2019, a Hennepin County jury found Noor guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after nearly four weeks of testimony. The testimony was littered with impeachment of numerous MPD officers and further highlighted the numerous shortcomings of the BCA’s investigation of officer-involved shootings.