NATION WHY KILL JUSTINE?
A SYDNEY woman just weeks away from her wedding was shot dead by police in her adopted new hometown in America’s Midwest after calling 911 for help.
The devastated family and friends of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, yesterday demanded a federal investigation into how she died in her pyjamas late Saturday night.
Ms Damond had called for help after hearing what police said was “a possible assault” in a lane outside her home in southwest Minneapolis. She was killed at 11.30pm by at least one shot from the two officers who responded to the call. Local media reported she was still in her pyjamas and speaking through the door of their patrol car to the driver when the passenger shot her.
No weapon was recovered at the scene and it is understood the officer’s body cameras were not turned on at the time of the fatal incident.
A crowd of more than 100 gathered at a vigil yesterday to remember the corporate speaker and meditation teacher, who moved from Sydney’s Northern Beaches three years ago and was to marry US businessman Don Damond, 50, next month.
“This woman was a beautiful light,” said neighbour Bethany Bradley. “She was a healer, she was loved, she should be alive – she should still be here.”
Damond’s soon- to- be stepson Zach posted a poignant video about the mystery death of his “best friend”, a woman who had previously spoken out about America’s gun culture.
“Basically my mum’s dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know,” he said. “America sucks.” The two officers involved in the shooting were immediately placed on administrative leave while the local Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates.
Don Damond, the vice- president of Little Six Casino, was away on business when his partner was killed and arrived at their home yesterday afternoon.
A family friend, who only wanted to be identified as Hannah, described the couple as “just so in love”.
Among the many questions Damond’s family asked yesterday were why the officers’ cameras weren’t turned on. Activists were among the mourners outside the Damond home yesterday, and they quickly linked her name with other highprofile victims of police shootings.
Large love hearts were chalked onto the driveway near where Damond fell, with the names Jamar Clark and Philando Castile, whose killings at the hands of police sparked protests and marches.
Hannah, 21, who said she was a friend of Zach’s echoed the questions of many.
“I don’t know what she was doing out,” Hannah told the local Star Tribune newspaper. “She’s such a kind woman. “She took me in when I was in a tough situation and helped me with whatever I needed.”
She also said there was no way Ms Damond would have had a gun and that she had often talked about how things were better in Australia because of strict gun ownership laws.
Zach Damond described his future stepmother – who had already changed her surname on her business website ahead of her imminent wedding – as “a very passionate woman”.