Justine Damond, 40-year-old Australian-American woman living in the U.S. city of Minneapolis for the past three years, was shot dead on July 15 by two police officers who did not have their body cameras turned on.
Justine, a spiritual healer who practiced spiritual Yoga and ran meditation workshops at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, had dual citizenship. Born Justine Ruszczyk, the Sydneysider was due to marry in August.
The Minneapolis police have not named the two officers involved in the shooting. They still haven’t explained how, or why the shooting occurred. But they have sent two officers involved in the shooting on paid administrative leave.
— Minneapolis Police (@MinneapolisPD) July 17, 2017
In a video posted on Facebook, Justine’s stepson Zac Damond said her mother called 911 to report what she believed was a sexual assault in progress nearby. After arriving at her house, the officers opened fire, killing the very person they were supposed to help.
“Basically my mum was shot for reasons I don’t know. I just know she heard a sound in the alley so then she called the police and the cops showed up and she was a very passionate woman, she probably thought something bad was happening and then next thing I know they take my best friend’s life.”
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement consoling Justine’s family. The department also urged the U.S. authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the shooting.
Press release from the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension regarding the officer-involved shooting on the 5100 block of Washburn Ave. South. pic.twitter.com/wRR9sA3gbt
— Minneapolis Police (@MinneapolisPD) July 16, 2017
Betsy Hodges, the mayor of Minneapolis, expressed her sorrow and frustration on the incident, and assured to find out why the officers’ body cameras were not turned on.
“As mayor of our city, a wife, and a grandmother, I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by what occurred last night,” she said in statement on Facebook.
Activists say the shooting is not surprising as the country is not willing to overhaul the current policing system despite the numerous flaws. Levy-Pounds, who led protests against the police for killing two unarmed black men — Jamar Clarke and Philando Castile — in November 2015 and July 2016 in Minnesota, said:
“The tragic and senseless death of Justine Damond at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department illustrates everything that is wrong with our system of policing in the US.”
Well-wishers have been holding vigils and seeking justice for Justine.
Vigil grows outside SW Minneapolis alleyway where neighbors say Justine Damond was shot and killed by an officer whose cameras weren’t on. pic.twitter.com/jZBHg6lntG
— Iris Pérez (@IrisPerezFOX9) July 17, 2017
UPDATE: Minneapolis police officer who shot Justine Damond has been identified as Mohamed Noor, who has little more than two years’ experience on the force. According to the Star Tribune, officer Mohamed Noor violated his department’s rules on the use of bodycams.