Wednesday, July 15, 2020

George Floyd case is latest pitting Minnesota police vs. the public

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The death of George Floyd this week was the latest in a string of incidents in Minnesota that have strained relations between the public and police.

Here’s a look back at some other cases in Minnesota that made national headlines.

July 2017: Justine Ruszczyk Damond

Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer who had responded to her home based on a 911 call that she made to report a possible rape.

The police officer, Mohamed Noor, was ultimately convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.

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A poster of Justine Ruszczyk Damond is displayed at a news conference by attorneys for her family in Minneapolis, July 23, 2018. (Associated Press)


Noor had testified that he saw Damond raise her arm as she approached him through an alley behind her residence. Noor responded by firing his weapon at the woman, who was unarmed.

The case made headlines because it occurred amid a series of incidents across the U.S. involving black people being shot by white officers. In this case, Noor, a Somali American, shot Damond, who is white, and her family received a $20 million settlement from the city.

July 2016: Philando Castile

Philando Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, was fatally shot during a traffic stop in St. Anthony, outside Minneapolis, on July 6, 2016. The case drew widespread attention because Castile’s girlfriend, who was riding with him, livestreamed the aftermath on Facebook.

Castile told a police officer he was carrying a weapon for which he had a permit but the police officer in the case, Officer Jeromino Yanez, 29 and Latino, ended up shooting the driver multiple times.

A memorial including a photo of Philando Castile adorns the gate to the Minnesota governor's residence where protesters demonstrated in St. Paul, July 25, 2016. (Associated Press)

A memorial including a photo of Philando Castile adorns the gate to the Minnesota governor’s residence where protesters demonstrated in St. Paul, July 25, 2016. (Associated Press)

Yanez was ultimately acquitted of manslaughter and other charges in June 2017. He later accepted a buyout from the St. Anthony Police Department, agreeing to take a lump sum of $48,500, plus an unspecified amount of accrued or unused personal-leave pay, according to The Associated Press.

Yanez’s acquittal led to days of protests, including one in St. Paul that shut down Interstate 94 for hours and ended with 18 arrests. At a city council meeting, residents of St. Anthony called on the city’s mayor to resign.

October 2004: Courtney Williams

Courtney Williams was a 15-year-old high school basketball player who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer around midnight Oct. 23, 2004.

A grand jury ultimately cleared Officer Scott Mars in the case after Mars claimed he thought he saw the teen raise a gun during a foot chase, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

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Police said a pellet gun was found near the site of the shooting but Williams’ family disputed accusations that the teen was carrying a weapon.

The case was controversial in part because it was the first test of a new police in which the city’s police department would investigate its own officer-involved shootings rather than have an outside agency handle such cases.

Fox News’ Talia Kaplan and Vandana Rambaran contributed to this story.

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