Source: New York Post
An Australian woman who was living in Minnesota and engaged to be married next month was shot dead by police — after she called 911 to report a disturbance behind her house.
Justine Damond, 40, of Minneapolis, was killed on Saturday night by an officer who was responding to her call, according to the Star Tribune.
He and another cop had arrived at her home around 11:30 p.m. — looking for a possible assault — after she claimed to hear “a sound” in the alley behind the residence, the newspaper reports.
Three sources with knowledge of the incident said that when they arrived, the officers pulled around back and were immediately confronted by Damond, who was in her pajamas.
As she attempted to speak to the cop in the driver’s seat, the other officer apparently unholstered his gun and started blasting — striking her through the driver’s side door, the sources said.
No weapons were found at the scene or on Damond, and neighbors claim the area is well-lit at night, thanks to an array of telephone poles and motion-activated garage lights.
Local police have released very few details about the shooting — only revealing that the cops’ body cameras were not switched on at the time of the incident. The dashcam in their squad car did not capture the events, either.
“Basically, my mom’s dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know,” Damond’s soon-to-be stepson, Zach Damond, told the Tribune.
“I demand answers,” he said. “If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I’m so done with all this violence.”
Damond, a trained yoga instructor from Sydney, had been using her fiancé’s last name in favor of her maiden name — Ruszczyk — before her death.
She was set to marry Don Damond, 50, in August and had been living with him in Minneapolis.
Officials from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they would be sending consular assistance to her family in the wake of the shooting.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is reportedly investigating the incident, which comes amid heightened tensions over the state’s recent acquittal of the white cop who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year.
“The BCA’s investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete,” officials said in a statement. “The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.”
Authorities have confirmed that the two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, which is said to be standard procedure.
Damond was described as a beloved motivational healer by family and friends.
Her fiancé, Don, is vice president and manager of Little Six Casino in Minnesota. He had been away on a business trip when the shooting unfolded, the Tribune reports.
The mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, called the circumstances surrounding Damond’s death “deeply disturbing” on Sunday during a press conference.
“I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened last night,” Hodges told reporters.
“We have few facts at this point,” she said. “I want to know more. I call on the BCA to share as much information with all of us as quickly as they can.”