Australian woman shot dead by US police after 911 call

Australian woman shot dead by US police after 911 call

The shooting of an Australian woman by US police has raised serious concerns after it was revealed the officers did not have their body cameras turned on.

Justine Damond, aged 40, was shot dead in Minneapolis about 11:30pm local time on Saturday after two officers responded to a report of a possible assault.

Ms Damond, originally from Sydney and also known as Justine Ruszczyk, was a trained veterinarian who worked as a meditation teacher and spiritual healer who worked with people with cancer, depression and alcoholism.

She was engaged to Minneapolis local Don Damond and they were due to marry next month.

Her stepson Zach Damond, 22, said she called police after hearing a noise in the alleyway near their house in the suburb of Fulton.

“At one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman,” the police department said.

“Officers were dispatched. When officers responded, an officer-involved shooting occurred, which resulted in one adult female victim who is deceased and which has prompted our callout to the BCA [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension].

“The BCA will now further be conducting this investigation, this officer-involved shooting, from this point forward.”




 
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement that she was “heartsick and deeply disturbed by the incident”.

“I’m seeking answers to the questions we all have, and will make sure to keep the communication flowing,” she said.

Australian woman shot dead by US police after 911 call

Ms Hodges said she understood the police body cameras and squad camera, which were introduced to the Minneapolis Police Department last year, were not switched on when the shooting occurred.

The two officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

‘They took my best friend’s life’

A rally organized by local activist Mel Reeves was held at the site of the shooting, while other community members gathered for a vigil in Ms Damond’s neighborhood.

Local media say neighbors are mystified as to what occurred.

Australian woman shot dead by US police after 911 call

Zach Damond spoke at the vigil calling for more information and transparency from the authorities.

“Basically my mum is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know, and I demand answers,” Mr Damond said.

“I just know that she heard a sound in the alley so she called the police, and the cops showed up.

“And she probably‚Ķ thought something bad was happening and then the next thing, they take my best friend’s life.

“I’m so done with all this violence, it’s so much bullshit.

“America sucks, these cops need to be trained differently and I need to move out of here.”

A woman named Bethany, another speaker at the vigil who claimed to be a friend of Ms Damond, described her as a “beautiful light”.

“She was a healer. She was loved. She should be alive. She should still be here,” she said.




 

Communities United Against Police Brutality president Michelle Gross said Ms Damond “lost her life being a good neighbor”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it was providing consular assistance to the family.

The shooting has reopened a deep rift between community members and the authorities as it comes one year after Minneapolis man Philando Castile was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officer Jeronimo Yanez.

A video from the aftermath of last year’s shooting was live-streamed on Facebook.

It showed a woman interacting with an armed officer as the fatally injured man lay on the footpath.

The local community was left reeling after Mr Yanez was acquitted of all charges exactly one month ago and fired by the City of Saint Anthony.

Leslie Redmond, the vice-president for the Minneapolis NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People), has called for a federal investigation into the latest shooting.

“I am shocked and appalled by the limited amount of information available right now. What are they covering up?” she said.

Mary Greeley News
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Credit http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-17/australian-woman-shot-dead-by-police-in-minneapolis/8714330