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Family of Justine Damond expresses concern over investigation

Plus: Minnesota unemployment rate hits new low; plans announced for more modest St. Paul ice palace; Mayer firefighter dies after intense training exercise; and more.

Justine Damond
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What was Freeman thinking? The AP reports (via MPR): “The family of an Australian woman who was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer in July demanded a more rigorous probe Thursday after a prosecutor cast doubts on the investigation. … Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman faulted investigators last week when he complained that he doesn’t have enough evidence to charge Officer Mohamed Noor in the killing of Justine Ruszczyk, known professionally as Justine Damond. Noor shot Ruszczyk in the alley behind her home after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. … Reading a statement to reporters in Sydney, Ruszczyk’s father John Ruszczyk said the family was deeply concerned ‘about the possibility that the initial investigation was not done properly, and with the greatest integrity or sense of completeness.’”

Not sick of winning yet. MPR reports: “Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 3.1 percent in November, the lowest monthly rate in more than 17 years. … The November rate slipped from 3.4 percent in October, even though state employers eliminated 4,000 jobs in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said Thursday. … The state has added 34,566 jobs over the past 12 months, an increase of 1.2 percent, while U.S. jobs grew 1.4 percent, the agency said.”

Downsiced. The Pioneer Press’ Kathy Berdan reports: “Though plans for a massive, record-breaking ice palace for the 2018 St. Paul Winter Carnival were scrapped a couple of months ago, organizers will be announcing a ‘community-based’ ice palace this afternoon. … It will be part of the annual winter celebration, which will be extended Jan. 25-Feb. 10 to connect to Super Bowl festivities in Minneapolis. The palace will be a free attraction.”

A true tragedy. The Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh reports: “A 40-year-old firefighter from the west metro died overnight following a physical training session. … Capt. Jeff Vollmer, a 12-year veteran of the Mayer Fire Department, died early Tuesday at his home, the department announced Wednesday. … Vollmer’s death came in the line of duty, the department said, having participated in training the previous night. … Eden Prairie Chief George Esbensen, a board member with a statewide foundation that is responsible for the Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the State Capitol, said Vollmer’s training Monday was ‘physically challenging’ and was followed by apparent cardiac arrest suffered about 4 a.m.”

In other news…

What would you do for your best friend?In one of two attacks, man wrestles bear off dog outside North Woods home” [Star Tribune]

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Uh, sure, why not?Birkebeiner Bridge will be part of Super Bowl Live on Nicollet Mall” [Star Tribune]

An account of that aborted ICE flight to Somalia:It ‘was like a slave ship’ ” [Rochester Post-Bulletin]

Refuses to open the pod bay doors:Mall of America’s AI Chatbot is Neat, But Needs Schooling” [Mpls.St.Paul Magazine]