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Officer says partner fired before he could analyze threat

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The partner of a Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a possible crime testified Thursday that he heard a thump on the officers' squad car right before the shooting and feared a possible ambush. Officer Matthew Harrity's testimony echoed a key claim by Mohamed Noor, who fired a single shot at Justine Ruszczyk Damond as she approached the officers' squad car on July 15, 2017. Damond had placed two 911 calls that night to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Struck in the abdomen, the 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, quickly bled to death in an incident that sparked anger and disbelief in both countries. Harrity, who was driving, described a tense scene, with he and Noor rolling down the dark alley with headlights off, using a spotlight to search for any evidence of a woman in trouble. Harrity said at one point took a safety off his holster, but that when they neared the end of the alley without finding anything, he thought he had replaced it. Harrity - wearing his uniform and appearing composed on the stand - testified that he had a "weird feeling" to his left but couldn't make out what it was. "At this time I hear something hit the car and I also hear some sort of murmur," he said. He immediately drew his gun and held it to his ribs pointing downward, he said. Prosecutor Amy Sweazy asked Harrity if he always pulled his gun when startled. He said it depends. "In this situation, with the thump and being startled, I went straight to, 'This could be an ambush,'" Harrity answered. He added: "My first thought is, I'm going to make sure whatever it was is not a threat to me." Harrity said as he tried to make sense of what was happening, he heard a pop...

The Latest: Officer's partner explains why he didn't shoot

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Latest on the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed woman who had called 911 (all times local): 12:50 p.m. The partner of a former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman says he was startled by a thump on the officers' squad car and feared a possible ambush. Officer Matthew Harrity is a key witness at the trial of Mohamed Noor. Noor killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond with a single shot as she approached the officers' squad car in July 2017. Damond was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Defense attorneys have said Noor was reacting to a noise and feared an ambush when he fired his weapon. Harrity was driving the police SUV. In his testimony Thursday, he described a glimpse of something to his left, then hearing something hitting the car and "some sort of murmur." He said he immediately drew his gun. Harrity said that's when Noor fired. ___ 11:27 a.m. The partner of a Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report a possible rape near her home is describing the moments before the shooting. Officer Matthew Harrity is a critical witness in the trial of Mohamed Noor. Noor killed Justine Ruszczyk Damond with a single shot as she approached the officers' squad car in July 2017. Harrity testified Thursday that he and Noor were rolling down the alley behind Damond's house searching for anything related to the 911 call of a woman in trouble. Harrity testified he had pulled the hood off his gun's holster in case he needed to draw it. Asked why, Harrity said he considers every call a threat until it's not. His testimony is continuing.

Woman sues Chinese billionaire Liu for alleged rape

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A woman who said she was raped by JD.com founder Richard Liu filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the billionaire and his company alleging he and other wealthy Chinese executives coerced her to drink during a dinner in the hours before she was attacked. Jingyao Liu, a student at the University of Minnesota, claims Liu forced himself upon her in his vehicle after the dinner and later raped her at her apartment. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000. Richard Liu, founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of felony rape and released within hours. Prosecutors announced in December that he would face no criminal charges because the case had "profound evidentiary problems" and that it was unlikely they could prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Liu's defense attorneys said at the time that his arrest was based on a false claim. Liu released a statement on Chinese social media then saying he broke no law, but that his interactions with the woman hurt his family, especially his wife, and he hoped she would accept his apology. Attorneys for Richard Liu and representatives of JD.com did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. The alleged attack happened while Liu was in Minneapolis for a weeklong residency as part of the University of Minnesota's doctor of business administration China program. The four-year program in the university's management school is geared toward high-level executives in China and is a partnership with Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. Jingyao Liu is a Chinese citizen studying at the university on a student visa, and was a volunteer in the doctorate program while Richard Liu was there. The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of...

Minnesota cop's trial raises questions about code of silence

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Testimony in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed woman after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home has shined a light on officers' actions at the scene and raised questions about whether they were trying to protect one of their own. The incident commander turned her body camera off when talking to Mohamed Noor in the moments after the July 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, while other officers told him not to say a word, according to prosecutors and court testimony. Many responding officers turned their body cameras on and off at will; one had his camera recording while headed to the scene and shut it off upon arrival. "These are extremely troublesome things," said Phil Turner, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor in Chicago who is not connected to the case. "They're law enforcement officers and they are supposed to enforce the law equally, whether someone is a sworn law enforcement officer or not." Noor, 33, is on trial for murder and manslaughter in the death of Damond, a 40-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia who was shot while approaching the squad car that Noor and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, were in. Defense attorney Peter Wold said in his opening statement that Noor heard a loud bang on the squad car and feared an ambush. But prosecutors say there is no evidence of any threat to justify deadly force. Noor and Harrity did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting. The shooting got instant international attention, led to the forced resignation of the city's police chief, and led to changes in the department's policy on body cameras. It also raised questions about a "blue wall of silence" as prosecutors said they had to convene a grand jury to compel officers'...

UnitedHealth beats expectations all around, stock still lags

UnitedHealth Group beat first-quarter expectations and raised its 2019 forecast, as the nation's largest insurer increased Medicare coverage and received another boost from its growing business outside health insurance. The performance softened, at least temporarily, an unusual stock price slump so far this year. UnitedHealth said Tuesday that revenue from its Medicare and retirement business jumped nearly 12%, as Medicare Advantage enrollment grew by around 400,000 people. UnitedHealth is the nation's largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, which are privately run versions of the federally funded Medicare coverage program for people over age 65. UnitedHealth Group Inc., based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, also saw revenue grow nearly 12% to $26.4 billion from its Optum segment, which runs a pharmacy benefit management business, manages physician clinics and provides technology services. UnitedHealth covers nearly 50 million people internationally as the largest U.S. health insurer, but it also has been stoking growth in its Optum segment for several years now. Health insurance is still the biggest revenue generator for UnitedHealth, but Optum, which generated first-quarter operating earnings of $1.9 billion, generally delivers a higher profit margin. UnitedHealth has been feeding Optum with acquisitions as insurers and other health care entities push deeper into managing or providing patient care in order to cut costs and improve quality. Overall, UnitedHealth earnings jumped 22% to $3.47 billion in the first quarter. Earnings, adjusted for amortization costs, were $3.73 per share, topping Wall Street estimates by 13 cents, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Total revenue climbed about 9% to $60.31 billion, also edging out expectations. . ..

AP source: Officials consider new penalty for visa overstays

WASHINGTON (AP) - Top administration officials have been discussing ways to increase pressure on countries with high numbers of citizens who overstay short-term visas, as part of President Donald Trump's growing focus on immigration heading into his re-election campaign. The administration could introduce new travel restrictions on nationals from those countries, according to two people familiar with the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose private conversations. The idea, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is just one of many under discussion by an administration that is increasingly desperate to satisfy a president who has been angry about the influx of migrants at the border as he tries to make good on his 2016 campaign promises and energize his base going into 2020. The ideas have ranged from the extreme - including Trump's threat to shut down the southern border and consideration of again separating children from parents - to more subtle tweaks to the legal immigration system, including efforts to clamp down on visa overstays, which, according to the nonpartisan Center for Migration Studies, exceed illegal border crossings. Plans are also in the works to have border patrol agents conduct initial interviews to determine whether migrants seeking asylum have a "credible fear" of returning to their homelands. Border patrol agents are the first officials who come into contact with migrants, and the thinking is that they'll be less sympathetic than asylum officers. And officials have been considering raising asylum standards and changing the court system so that the last people in are the first to have their cases adjudicated. Some of the ideas have been proposed, rejected and then proposed again. The administration has also been weighing...

Trump focuses on divisive messages as 2020 reelection bid takes shape

President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on a Muslim member of Congress and "Radical Left Democrats" on Monday ahead of a reelection campaign that is quickly taking shape around divisive messages centered on immigration and patriotism. Speaking Monday at an event billed as a tax and economy roundtable, Trump told a suburban Minneapolis audience "how unfairly you've been treated as a state" when it comes to immigration, and he rattled off a litany of grudges against the current system: The loopholes are "horrible and foolish," the visa lottery is "insane," and the concept of asylum is "ridiculous." "People come in, they read a line from a lawyer that a lawyer hands them out online," Trump said at the event as he mimicked an asylum seeker reading from a piece of paper. "It's a big con job. That's what it is." The afternoon remarks came hours after he took a direct shot at one of the state's members of Congress, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat - whom Trump called "out of control" - as Omar continued to come under criticism for comments that critics view as dismissive of the tragedy of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The dueling Trumps on Tax Day highlighted a parallel dynamic at play ahead of his reelection bid: While the broader GOP apparatus is attempting to focus on the economy, the campaigner in chief is seizing on more confrontational messages that may appeal to the base but potentially turn off swing voters. "If they're focused on expanding his popularity and the party's popularity, they should be talking about the economy, and they should be talking about tax cuts," said Tony Fratto, a former White House and Treasury Department spokesman during the George W. Bush administration. "Every time they choose to double down and talk about immigration, they lose an opportunity." The Trump campaign, the White House and the...

The Latest: Trump escalates Twitter feud with Rep. Omar

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (all times local): 10 a.m. President Donald Trump is escalating his feud with Rep. Ilhan Omar, accusing her on Twitter of making "anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful U.S. HATE statements." The comments come a day after the Minnesota Democrat said she's faced increased death threats since Trump spread a video that purports to show her being dismissive of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She's accused Trump of fomenting right-wing extremism and urged him to stop. Trump is also going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He's accusing her of having "lost all control of Congress" and "getting nothing done," and says, before she decides to "defend her leader, Rep. Omar," she should look at her past comments. He asserts, without evidence, that Omar is "out of control, except for her control of Nancy!" __ 12:22 a.m. Rep. Ilhan Omar says she's faced increased death threats since President Donald Trump spread around a video that purports to show her being dismissive of the 2001 terrorist attacks. "This is endangering lives," she said, accusing Trump of fomenting right-wing extremism. "It has to stop." Her statement late Sunday followed an announcement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she has taken steps to ensure the safety of the Minnesota Democrat and the speaker's call for Trump to take down the video. Soon after Pelosi's statement, the video disappeared as a pinned tweet at the top of Trump's Twitter feed, but it was not deleted. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump earlier Sunday, saying he wished no "ill will" upon the first-term lawmaker.

Trump using Tax Day visit to Minnesota to tout 2017 tax cuts

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - President Donald Trump will use Tax Day on Monday to visit Minnesota, an erstwhile Democratic stronghold he hopes to flip in 2020 after nearly winning it in 2016. Questions remain, however, about just how much he's politically benefiting from his signature legislative accomplishment. Minnesota, which gave the country Democratic Vice Presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, hasn't given its 10 electoral votes to a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972. Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of carrying the state in 2016 thanks to his strength among rural voters. The state's Democrats saw a huge overall resurgence during the anti-Trump backlash of 2018, notably in traditionally Republican suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Giving the president hope is the memory that his popularity outside the Twin Cities area helped the GOP flip two Democratic U.S. House seats last year. "I'm glad he's coming to Minnesota," said state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, the top Republican in state government. "I think he realizes Minnesota's in play." Ahead of Trump's visit, Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, talked up the 2017 tax law during a teleconference with reporters Friday. He said it's working exactly as its proponents predicted and that it quickly made the U.S. an attractive place to do business again, leading to increased hiring and higher wage growth. He also said the tax cuts continue to provide "sustained, long-term nourishment for our economy." Trump planned to visit a truck and equipment company in the suburb of Burnsville on Monday for a roundtable discussion on the tax cuts and the economy. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic presidential candidate, on Sunday criticized Trump's tax cuts, saying they added trillions of dollars to the...

2 found dead at prominent Minnesota businessman's home

ORONO, Minn. (AP) - Authorities are investigating the deaths of two people found at the Lake Minnetonka mansion of Irwin Jacobs, a prominent Minnesota businessman who once owned a minority share in the Minnesota Vikings NFL team. Orono, Minnesota, police say the bodies of a man and woman were discovered in a bed along with a gun after authorities received a call at 8:31 a.m. Wednesday. Police have not released their names, but said no suspects are being sought. Dennis Mathisen, a longtime friend of the family, told the Star Tribune that Alexandra Jacobs, who had been Irwin's wife for 57 years and mother to their five children, "had been in a wheelchair for the last year or so and had signs of dementia. Irwin was just distraught over her condition." He said he spoke with Irwin Jacobs about three days ago, and "he was upbeat. I talked with his son Mark yesterday, and he talked to both of them. He said Irwin seemed up." The Hennepin County Crime Lab was called to the scene, as was a hearse, while the ambulance service from North Memorial Health was told it was not needed. Police also informed dispatch that an attorney for Jacobs arrived at the home. Irwin Jacobs, 77, had a stake in the Vikings in the 1980s before selling his share. He gained notoriety nationally in the 1980s as a corporate raider who bought out underperforming companies at a profit. He was known to some as "Irv the Liquidator." One of his most notable local transactions was his purchase of the Grain Belt beer company and brewery in the mid-1970s. He later sold the beer brand to G. Heileman Brewing Company and the brewery and real estate assets to the city of Minneapolis. He has owned J.R. Watkins Co., which makes soaps and other household products, for more than 40 years. He also owns Jacobs Trading...

Tech has foundation for future after reaching national final

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Brandone Francis plopped down in front of the Texas Tech locker room stalls where Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens were seated, their eyes red and wet as they clasped hands in consolation and solidarity while Virginia was celebrating on the court. Three of the team's four seniors were still trying to process the fresh agony of losing in overtime of the national championship game with the life-changing and program-lifting season the Red Raiders (31-7) had just finished. In this rawest of moments they experienced, the sadness was too strong to push aside . "It's so hard to come up short, man," Mooney said in the softest of his voices, staring straight down at the floor after Texas Tech lost 85-77 in Minneapolis. Mooney, the sharp-shooting guard with the close-shorn haircut who was the star of the win over Michigan State in the semifinals on Saturday, landed in Lubbock with coach Chris Beard for his final year of college. The two-time transfer, who started at Air Force and then switched to South Dakota, found a place to belong, however briefly, with Beard and his like-minded collection of underdogs and afterthoughts. Naturally, Mooney was taking the loss as hard as anyone as Monday night crept toward Tuesday morning deep inside U.S. Bank Stadium. "At the end of the day, we're brothers," he said. "We're family. We're always going to be family." Beard, the Associated Press Coach of the Year award winner , worked his way through junior colleges, a semipro league, Division III, Division II and a mid-major before finally arriving at a power conference program with the Red Raiders three years ago. Last season, he took them further than ever, where predecessors Gerald Myers, James Dickey, Bobby Knight, Pat Knight and Tubby Smith never went, to the school's...

Huge crowd welcomes home national hoops champion Cavaliers

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Virginia's national champion men's basketball team returned to campus Tuesday and was greeted with a hero's welcome. A throng of several thousand fans serenaded coach Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers, many in the crowd sporting newly acquired T-shirts celebrating the first national basketball title in school history. The Cavaliers won the title Monday night, defeating Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime in Minneapolis. The crowd chanted "U-V-A, U-V-A" as police motorcycles escorted the busses carrying the team into the parking lot of John Paul Jones Arena. The players and coaches walked down a path set off by barricades, high-fiving fans on their way to a podium. Virginia post player Mamadi Diakite drew huge cheers when he got off the bus holding the national championship trophy high above his head, and the crowd chanted "Tony, Tony" when Bennett emerged. "I guess this really happened," Bennett told the crowd from a stage, drawing roars. "We won the national championship." Fans erupted again. Kyle Guy, the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, told the crowd he and his teammate never wavered in their belief that they could win the championship, ever after last season when, as the top overall seed, they became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. Virginia's players were reminded of the loss all season, but felt like they answered their critics in the best way imaginable. "I don't think Hollywood could have done a better job with the ending," Guy said. Seeing fans lining the streets on the route from the airport to the school's arena, Bennett said, helped him realize how much the victory meant to the community, even if he hadn't quite had the chance to let the magnitude of the last 24 hours fully sink in. "That's one of the pure, good...

Casino-operating tribes influence sports betting debate

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Native American tribes have emerged as key players in the legislative debates over whether states should legalize sports betting, with some opposing the idea because it could threaten their casinos and others supporting legalization but only if they retain a monopoly. In many states, tribes are fighting sports betting or taking a go-slow approach because they worry it could force them to reopen decades-old agreements that give them exclusive rights to operate casinos and offer certain forms of gambling. "The tribes have a major-league seat at the table," said Bill Pascrell III, a lobbyist for gambling interests seeking legalized sports betting across the country. Six states have joined Nevada in allowing sports gambling since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year opened the door to its expansion, and legalization is being considered in more than 20 other states. In Minnesota, a bill seeking to legalize sports betting cleared its first hurdle earlier this year, passing a committee in the state Senate. But that's likely to be as far as the measure goes, in large part because the state's politically potent tribes oppose it. Gambling "is the only successful economic development tool the tribes have ever had," John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, told the committee. The tribes, which operate 21 casinos and have given millions in campaign donations, are especially concerned about allowing sports betting on mobile devices, which they fear could invite wider internet gambling that could threaten their casinos. In Texas, the only sports betting bill is almost certain to die. It was introduced by a Democrat, the minority party, in a state where casino operators from neighboring Oklahoma and Louisiana have...

Injured stars making mark at Final Four for MSU, Auburn

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Under different circumstances Joshua Langford might have had a throng of reporters around him as he sat in front of his locker at U.S. Bank Stadium, two days before Michigan State plays in the Final Four. Langford is the Spartans' co-captain and second-leading scorer, but has not played since late December because of an ankle injury. So instead of drawing lots of attention from media Thursday, the way All-America teammate Cassius Winston and emerging Spartans freshman Aaron Henry did, Langford only did a few interviews. Langford has watched more than participated this season, but he has been way more than just a spectator. "It's been a great experience for me just because, well first of all, I always said I wanted to come to a Final Four, so I'm here at the Final Four," said Langford, who was wearing a plastic walking boot to support his surgically repaired left foot. "So I've learned a lot. You know just because I'm not able to play I still have figured out a way to try to still be a part of the team and that's through my voice." Langford is one of two talented players who will make an impact on Saturday's Final Four even though they are not healthy enough to play. Langford has found a niche as leader, mentor and part-time assistant coach for the Spartans, who face Texas Tech. Auburn will face Virginia without star forward Chuma Okeke, who injured his knee in a Sweet 16 victory against North Carolina but has helped inspire the Tigers to the first Final Four in school history. "Let's get this done, baayyy-beeee! For Chuma," teammates Austin Wiley, Myles Parker and Malik Dunbar sang into a video camera Thursday in the Auburn locker room. Langford's injury came in Michigan State's final nonconference game on Dec. 29 against Northern Illinois. Not until a month later was it determined the 6-foot-6...

Walz to appeal against gridlock in State of the State speech

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Tim Walz plans to use his first State of the State address to appeal for overcoming political gridlock and to stress the need for lawmakers from both parties in a divided Legislature to work together to solve Minnesota's problems. The Democratic governor is scheduled to speak to the joint Legislature in the House chamber at 7 p.m. Wednesday. He attended plenty of State of the Union speeches during his 12 years in Congress, but told reporters this week that he doesn't intend to use his speech "to hammer the other side" as he's seen presidents do. Instead, he said, it's a "unique opportunity" to seek unity. "My intention is to try and figure out where that true One Minnesota lies and kind of stay in that lane," Walz said, referring to a campaign theme of unity that he has carried into office. Walz is getting strong support for his agenda from the Democratic-controlled House. He's had some bipartisan success with the Republican-led Senate, and the general tone around the Capitol has improved compared with the rancor between his Democratic predecessor, Mark Dayton, and GOP-controlled legislatures. But the tough budget decisions of the 2019 session lie ahead, with deep divisions on taxes and other policy proposals. Walz plans to speak off the cuff, without a script. He said he's been preparing by reading State of the State speeches given by his predecessors. "They're formulaic," he said. "They lay out what they're supposed to do, what's happening in the world, whether it be the Vietnam War, whether it be the economic downturn in the '80s ... and then they used it as a platform to talk about their agenda. I won't disappoint you on that part of it." But he said an important theme will be how "a gridlock politics is really holding us back from doing the things that I think most of us know we...