Prosecutor: 'No basis' for Minneapolis cop to shoot woman

AMY FORLITI

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A prosecutor criticized a former Minneapolis police officer for his decision to shoot an unarmed woman who approached his squad car, suggesting Friday that he had "no basis" to believe she had a weapon when he couldn't see her hands.

Prosecutor Amy Sweasy pressed Mohamed Noor to explain why he didn't choose another option before he shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017, just minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her house.

Sweasy asked Noor why he couldn't have told Damond to step back, tell his partner to drive, or tell his partner to get down.

"I had to make a split-second decision," Noor testified. He said he felt he had no other choice but to shoot under the circumstances, after he heard a bang on the driver's side of the squad car, saw his partner look afraid and try to pull out his gun, and then saw a woman at the driver's side window, raising her arm.

Noor's testimony came near the end of the fourth week in his trial on murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. The defense rested its case at the end of Friday's court day. The prosecution is expected to call at least one rebuttal witness on Monday before closing arguments, and the judge told jurors to expect to begin deliberating Monday.

She said they will be sequestered once deliberations begin.

Noor, 33, was fired after being charged. His attorneys have argued that he was justified in using deadly force to protect himself and partner Matthew Harrity from a perceived threat. Prosecutors have argued there was no reasonable threat, and questioned whether the supposed bang on the squad car was invented.

Sweasy reminded Noor of testimony Thursday in which he said reacting too late to a threat means officers can die.

"It's also true if you don't do your job correctly, someone else could get killed," Sweasy said.

Noor's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, asked Noor what would have happened if the person approaching the squad car had had a weapon.

"My partner would have been killed," Noor answered.

Noor's testimony resumed Friday, a day after he took the stand in his own defense and for the first time began publicly talking about the night of Damond's death; Noor had refused to talk to investigators since the shooting.

He described his training in various police skills including "counter-ambush" training that included scenarios such as two officers in a squad car, doing routine tasks, and an instructor yelling "Threat!" The officers had to make a quick decision about whether to shoot, Noor said.

Emanuel Kapelsohn, a use-of-force expert, testified for the defense Friday that he felt Noor used reasonable force given the totality of the circumstances.

"He had to react immediately," Kapelsohn said.

Two other use-of-force experts testified for the prosecution earlier that they felt Noor did not act reasonably.

The defense also called a woman who lives across the alley from where Damond died, Michelle LeBlanc, who said she was lying in bed that night when she heard sounds. LeBlanc described them as "boom, boom, boom" and said the first noise was loud and startled her. She said the second noise was a gunshot.

Prosecutor Patrick Lofton sought to raise questions about LeBlanc's testimony, referring to past statements she gave to investigators and pointing out discrepancies.

The death of Damond, a life coach who was engaged to be married a month after the shooting, sparked outrage in both the U.S. and Australia, cost Minneapolis' police chief her job and contributed to the electoral defeat of the city's mayor a few months later.

Neither officer had a body camera running when Damond was shot, something Harrity blamed on what he called a vague policy that didn't require it. The department toughened the policy after Damond's death to require that the cameras be turned on when responding to a call.

Damond was white. Noor is a Somali American whose hiring two years before the shooting was celebrated by Minneapolis leaders as a sign of a diversifying police force in a city with a large population of Somali immigrants.

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Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyforliti

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Check out the AP's complete coverage of Mohamed Noor's trial: https://apnews.com/MohamedNoortrial

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    Evening Standard

    Mayfair restaurant Quaglino's overhauls menu in sustainability drive

    A leading central London restaurant has overhauled its food and drinks menus ahead of its 90th anniversary in a bid to enter its next decade sustainably. The executive head chef behind Quaglino's in Mayfair has told how the restaurant has taken steps to remove unsustainable products from its business model. This includes using surplus food, removing unethical items such as foie gras from the menu, cutting plastic waste and transforming the kitchen to reduce the restaurant's carbon footprint. Nuno Goncalves told the Standard the team was moved to introduce the new initiatives to be in line with climate change concerns."We wanted to pave the way for other restaurants to do this, to be at the forefront of that," he said."We are taking all the steps possible to reduce unethical and unsustainable products from our menu, and to keep our menu as local as possible."The restaurant now uses London suppliers for all the fresh herbs used in its dishes, Mr Goncalves explained. These are grown in Vauxhall-based urban gardens and delivered by bike. The team also accepts surplus food and "wonky" vegetables from suppliers in an effort to minimise food waste. Meanwhile chefs have worked with the restaurant's mixologists to create cocktails using surplus food prep. "It's about trying to reuse food products to create something else," Mr Goncalves said. Bunches of mint are a regular feature on a bar at any restaurant, however it is usually only the leaves that are used, with the stems discarded. At Quaglino's, the stems are blended with olive oil to make "mint stick oil", which adds an extra freshness and scene to cocktails. This is included in Blossom, the restaurant's waste-free drink, which claims to be "the world's most sustainable cocktail".Mr Goncalves added: "We have also removed foie gras from the menu because the way it has been produced is unethical. No-one has asked for it since the change."In the kitchen, a fuel-efficient grill has been installed, which uses less energy and cuts the restaurant's carbon footprint by 40 per cent. The moves mark a growing shift among businesses to reduce their environmental footprint. Earlier this month Spring, which is based at Somerset House in Aldwych, announced it has committed to running its business without single-use plastics. The restaurant has stopped using cling film and plastic straws. It has also asked its suppliers to deliver food in reusable packaging, the BBC reports.Quaglino's has also eliminated plastic straws from its restaurant. As for food packaging, the chef said the restaurant's waste is "minimal" thanks to the amount of wrapping used when buying in bulk over the supermarket. However he has called for chefs to encourage suppliers to reduce their use of single-use plastics. "We need to create awareness and then it has to be the suppliers who take that step," he said. Mr Goncalves also believes there is more work to be done among restaurants and suppliers to champion sustainable produce."I think it crosses chefs' minds, but there's a certain cost, such as alienating customers who are not interested," he said. In fact, Mr Gonvalves said the initiatives have helped to attract new customers to the restaurant. He added that he has hosted sustainable supper clubs and created tasting menus using waste produce in an effort to educate customers on the changes, which "have had great feedback". Looking ahead, Mr Goncalves said his main focus is on finding a sustainable supply of meat and fish.While Quaglino's recently adopted more vegan and vegetarian options onto its menu "to appeal to the customers of today", the chef said the restaurant still wants to maintain its classic dishes."We don't want to drive away certain customers, but we want to find a sustainable way to supply customers with that produce," he said. "It's about collaborating with suppliers to get free range and organic products in a cost effective way."

  • Australia reach Netball World Cup final after narrow victory over South Africa in semis
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    Evening Standard

    Australia reach Netball World Cup final after narrow victory over South Africa in semis

    Australia coach Lisa Alexander denied charges of complacency after her team edged their way into the Netball World Cup final with a 55-53 win over South Africa.Four players including captain Caitlin Bassett were rested after their single-goal win over New Zealand in the group phase, and the triple defending champions almost paid a heavy price.Led by top scorer Lenize Potgieter, the South Africans, who had been brushed aside 58-47 by England on Thursday, hit back from an eight-goal half-time deficit and twice brought the game back within a single point.Alexander said: "We did not pick this team because we under-estimated South Africa at all. We picked it because we thought it matched up best on them - that's how much we respect them."Alexander paid tribute to the way her side, who also withstood a comeback against the Silver Ferns, held their nerve with goal shooter Caitlin Thwaites finishing with a perfect 30-for-30 record.She added: "In these moments it's about playing our own game and not getting caught up in all the crowd. They've got to keep their composure when the crowd is going right off."

  • #CheerUpCharlie: West End stars send touching messages to schoolboy bullied over his love of musicals
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    Evening Standard

    #CheerUpCharlie: West End stars send touching messages to schoolboy bullied over his love of musicals

    West End stars have rallied round to send messages of support to a nine-year-old boy who was being bullied at school for his love of musical theatre.Charlie, from Reading, had allegedly been called “gay, fat and stupid” and was beaten up for liking the shows, according to his teacher.Dozens of messages from big-name stars flooded in after his teacher, Jacqueline Hughes, posted about her pupil’s plight last week.Layton Williams, who stars in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, sent Charlie a touching message inviting him to a theatre workshop and inviting him to meet the cast. CheerUpCharlie ! I welcome him at my next @ProFromTheShows workshop 🎭 Please let his parents know and ask them to get in touch. We’re all thinking about him at @JamieMusical today - this ones for him! 💙 pic.twitter.com/TzOYOuK9BU — Layton Williams (@LaytonWilliams) July 17, 2019Stars from other major productions including Hamilton, Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Book of Mormon and Rock of Ages all filmed messages for Charlie, under the CheerUpCharlie hashtag, which began to trend online. What a talent you are Charlie. The ladies @PhantomOpera love ya! X pic.twitter.com/qOx8CFV5Ro — Katy Hanna (@katynannahanna) July 17, 2019After receiving the messages, Ms Hughes posted a touching video of Charlie thanking everyone for the videos before singing Elton John’s hit I’m Still Standing. So @_jacquelinehugh & Charlie... We @rockofagesuk loved your video so much that we decided to add it to our warm up!!! ❤️🤗 yourestillstanding keepyourchinup CheerUpCharlie pic.twitter.com/WikHey2IRP — Lucas Rush (@lucasrush) July 18, 2019Ms Hughes, who has also starred in West End shows, tweeted: “Industry friends I need a wee favour. “Sadly a little boy I teach, Charlie, who is also a dear family friend is sadly being bullied at school for his love of MT, being called gay, fat, stupid....the list goes on. Still celebrating and being inspired by CheerUpCharlie @HamiltonWestEnd itGetsBetter when you can join your tribe. Hang in there pic.twitter.com/Pt7TPTk5Xa — Nuno Queimado (@NunoFQueimado) July 18, 2019“Today he was beaten up by 6 boys and left curled up, crying. “I know many people face bullies everyday and many have in their lifetime. Charlie, the @bookofmormonuk cast are thinking of you today! Stay strong, you’re part of the most wonderful community in the world! Xxxx pic.twitter.com/7mgaTSQws1 — J͎a͎d͎e͎ ͎J͎o͎h͎n͎s͎o͎n͎☁️ (@JadeJohnson96) July 17, 2019“But I wondered if you wouldn’t mind, if you have time sending me a little video to cheer him up, maybe some advice, your own stories, how you didn’t let them stop you, what you are doing now.“He would be so incredibly grateful and beside himself with adoration.” pic.twitter.com/x0wiCEZ98P — Rufus Hound 🌨 (@RufusHound) July 17, 2019The teacher later posted an emotional video clip, thanking everyone who had sent videos and said she was “completely overwhelmed with your kindness, generosity, your love for this little boy.”

  • Female suicide bomber kills eight in northwest Pakistan
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    Reuters

    Female suicide bomber kills eight in northwest Pakistan

    A female suicide bomber in northwestern Pakistan killed at least eight people and wounded 26 more in an attack outside a local civilian hospital on Sunday, local officials said. The attack in Dera Ismail Khan early on Sunday was claimed by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, often known as the Pakistani Taliban, which is separate from the insurgent movement across the border in Afghanistan. Local officials said the attack happened after two police were killed at a roadside checkpoint outside the city.

  • Love Music Hate Racism: ‘Now more than ever we need to fight hatred with celebration,’ says leading anti-racism charity
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    Evening Standard

    Love Music Hate Racism: ‘Now more than ever we need to fight hatred with celebration,’ says leading anti-racism charity

    Anti-racism campaigners are calling for their “biggest celebration yet” amid growing international tensions and heated discrimination rows.Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) is a charity which harnesses the power of song to bring people together, using education and events to tackle “bigotry and hatred”.This month, its campaigners began fundraising for its latest show of unity: a bold and vibrant float to parade at Notting Hill Carnival.“Trump’s comments this week, the electoral successes of right-wing groups across Europe – these highlight the challenges we still face around bringing people together,” LMHR campaigns coordinator Zak Cochrane told the Standard.“I think things like carnival, and what we do with music in general, are such useful tools at uniting communities because music is a universal language.“Lots of people, no matter what their background, listen to the same music, so it’s such an effective way at getting different people into the room.”Zak, 33, said the charity’s aim was to “rediscover” the west London parade’s “anti-racist roots”.“Since its conception at the end of the 1950s, the carnival has been such an important beacon of resistance against racism,” he said.“Yes, it’s a celebration of Caribbean culture, but it originally came about at a time of race riots in London and other parts of the UK.”Claudia Jones helped organised the first Mardi-Gras-inspired party at St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959, in a bid to bring together black and white communities.The event was a success, and since then, it’s Notting Hill offspring has grown into one of the largest street carnivals in the world. “Our band theme this year is ‘carnival of resistance’, because we want to pay tribute to Claudia’s legacy: using positive celebration to bring people together, rather than bitter language that pulls us apart.”The charity needs to raise £10,000 to secure a float in this year’s parade, which will run from 6am on Sunday, August 25, to the following evening.The money will go towards the 44-tonne float itself, as well as security throughout the event, sound systems, costumes and refreshments for volunteers.If it reaches its financial target, LMHR will stage performances by veteran band Smokey Joe Roadshow, which has played at the carnival for more than 35 years.DJ Smokey Joe said of his partnership with the charity: “Since teaming up with Love Music Hate Racism, I’ve decided that I’m going to do carnival with a purpose. “We’re not going out on the road to do protests like you would on a march, we’re going out there and still having fun. “But just the mere presence of LMHR on the road – just with the banners and the t-shirts – says it all.”If successful in its Crowdfunding campaign, this will be the charity’s third year participating in the carnival.It’s first year took place in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, while its second was marred by rainstorms. Please watch and share LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM’s story to spread the positive message and see the incredible work they’re doing! LMHR BeautifulResistance @lmhrnational https://t.co/8YRALWF9Lr — Liam (@LiamPayne) March 18, 2019This year, it’s hoping for a more joyful occasion, with skies as clear as its message: “There is more that unites us than divides us; and nothing demonstrates this more than music.“Whatever the genre, music is living testimony to the fact that cultures can and do mix.“Music has the power to unite, to give strength and to effect positive social change.“Racism, on the other hand, weakens us.”

  • Dave Allen issues positive update after being rushed to hospital following David Price defeat
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    Evening Standard

    Dave Allen issues positive update after being rushed to hospital following David Price defeat

    Dave Allen’s trainer has reassured fans after the ‘White Rhino’ was carried out of the ring following defeat to David Price on Saturday night.Allen was pulled out of his fight at the end of the 10th round having been dominated by Price from the start of the contest. The 27-year-old was given oxygen after the final bell but was carried out of the ring on a stretcher and rushed to hospital.Former middleweight champion Darren Barker, now Allen’s trainer, has since reassured fans his fighter is ‘ok’, also congratulating veteran Price on his near punch-perfect performance. Dave wants you to know he’s ok. He’s just waiting on a scan and a few stitches. He also wants to congratulate @DavidPrice_1 on a fantastic win and hopes everyone gets home safely. pic.twitter.com/65vQun8XiW — Darren Barker (@DarrenBarker82) July 20, 2019“Dave wants you to know he is ok,” Barker wrote on Twitter, alongside a picture of Allen in hospital giving a thumbs up.“He is just waiting on a scan an a few stitches. He also wants to congratulate David Price on a fantastic win and hopes everyone gets home safely.”The hugely likeable Allen had previously been on a four-fight winning streak, stopping former world champion Lucas Browne with devastating body shot back in April.