The New York Times went in pursuit of the racial angle in the case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor for the July 2017 killing of Justine Ruszczyk in John Eligon’s “A Black Officer, a White Woman, a Rare Murder Conviction. Is It ‘Hypocrisy,’ or Justice?” The premise of Eligon’s story is that Noor was somehow the victim of racial prejudice. Although the premise of the story is framed as a question, this is a story you don’t really have to read to know the answer.
PJ Media’s Jack Dunphy addresses Eligon’s story in “Who’s the Victim When a Somali Muslim Police Officer Shoots an Innocent White Woman? The NYT Thinks It Knows.” As Dunphy points out, by the way, Eligon’s Times profile states that that he is “a national correspondent covering race,” and that he “documents the nuances of America’s struggle with race issues, from the protest movement over police violence to the changing face of the nation’s cities and suburbs.” Race is his nuanced beat.
In his story Eligon discusses the other local officer-involved shootings in which the officer was acquitted. That is the norm for these cases. Why was this case different? Dunphy does a good job addressing the premise of Eligon’s story and distinguishing Eligon’s comparators from the Noor case.
Covering the case on Power Line, I referred to the irreducible (nonracial) facts of the case. I think that is what distinguishes this case from the others. Good luck finding a statement of the irreducible facts of the case in Eligon’s analysis. He strolls quite a distance from the facts to turn his premise into a thesis.
Having attended the trial every day, I am struck by Eligon’s omission of any discussion of the jury in the Noor case. It is the jury that decides these cases. Is there any evidence that the jury was guilty of racial prejudice against Noor?
Eligon acknowledges in passing the “diverse” racial composition of the jury but quickly passes it by because it belies the premise of his story. Every local media organization carefully tracked it during jury selection. I would bet that even Times reporter Mitch Smith tracked it during his few days in court at the trial in the reserved seat that the Times ultimately forfeited as a result of disuse.
Unfortunately, Smith quickly disappeared from the courtroom after jury selection. Eligon might more usefully have put out an APB on Mitch than pursue the obligatory racial angle of his story.
It’s a shame that Eligon quickly drops the racial composition of the jury after he mentions it. How “diverse” was it? Even if he couldn’t turn to Mitch Smith for help, Eligon could have sought assistance from the the Minnesota media. The Star Tribune tabulated the racial composition of the jury here, as did KARE 11’s Lou Raguse here with Lou’s characteristically close attention to detail on display.
As the Star Tribune reported, “There were six [of the 12 jurors] who appeared to be people of color on the panel, four of them immigrants.” The jury included “a female obstetrician-gynecologist who described herself as a person of color. She said she has been second-guessed and mistaken as a nurse or lab technician because of other people’s implicit bias.” The jury of 12 also included a Native American man and four jurors who immigrated to the United States who were all nonwhite as well: two Filipino men, an Ethiopian man, and a Pakistani woman. (Four white alternate jurors were dismissed before the jury began deliberations.) The verdict arrived at by the jury was of course unanimous.
Did Noor’s race have anything to do with the jury’s verdict? If it did, I think it would have worked to his benefit, but a look at the jury strongly suggests that it didn’t hurt him. Raguse’s interview with one of the jurors on the deliberations shows the jury’s focus on the irreducible facts of the case in light of the applicable law. Eligon’s story is complete and utter baloney, Times style.