Aus­tralian woman killed in Min­neapo­lis po­lice shoot­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

De­tails about what led a Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer to fa­tally shoot an Aus­tralian woman re­mained un­clear Mon­day, with au­thor­i­ties say­ing only that of­fi­cers were re­spond­ing to a 911 call about a pos­si­ble as­sault when the woman was shot.

As au­thor­i­ties con­tin­ued to in­ves­ti­gate, the woman’s fam­ily mem­bers re­leased a state­ment Mon­day through Aus­tralia’s Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade, say­ing: “We are try­ing to come to terms with this tragedy and to un­der­stand why this has hap­pened.”

Min­neapo­lis au­thor­i­ties have not re­leased the woman’s name. The Star Tri­bune (http://strib. mn/2tZtSB2 ) iden­ti­fied her as Jus­tine Da­mond, 40, from Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. The news­pa­per re­ported that she was en­gaged to be mar­ried and had al­ready taken her fi­ance’s last name. Her maiden name was Jus­tine Ruszczyk.

The Bureau of Crim­i­nal Ap­pre­hen­sion re­leased a state­ment Sun­day say­ing two Min­neapo­lis of­fi­cers re­sponded to the call late Satur­day. At some point, an of­fi­cer fired a weapon.

The Star Tri­bune, cit­ing three peo­ple with knowl­edge of the shoot­ing it did not name, said Da­mond had been the one to call 911 about a pos­si­ble as­sault in the al­ley be­hind her house.

The three peo­ple said two of­fi­cers pulled into the al­ley in a sin­gle squad car. Da­mond, wear­ing py­ja­mas, stood at the driver’s side door and talked to the driver. The news­pa­per’s sources said the of­fi­cer in the pas­sen­ger seat shot Da­mond through the driver’s side door.

Po­lice re­ferred ques­tions to the BCA. A spokes­woman for the agency did not re­turn mes­sages seek­ing to con­firm that ac­count.

Neigh­bour Joan Har­grave called the killing “an ex­e­cu­tion.” She said there was no rea­son for a well-trained of­fi­cer to see Da­mond as a threat.

“This is a tragedy — that some­one who’s ask­ing for help would call the po­lice and get shot by the po­lice,” Har­grave said.

Of­fi­cials said the of­fi­cers’ body cam­eras were not turned on and that a squad car cam­era did not cap­ture the shoot­ing. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were still try­ing to de­ter­mine whether other video ex­ists.

It’s not clear why the of­fi­cers’ body cam­eras were not turned on. The depart­ment’s pol­icy al­lows for a range of sit­u­a­tions in which of­fi­cers are sup­posed to do so, in­clud­ing “any con­tact in­volv­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity” and be­fore use of force. If a body cam­era is not turned on be­fore use of force, it’s sup­posed to be turned on as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Some 50 friends and neigh­bours gath­ered in a semi­cir­cle Sun­day af­ter­noon near where Da­mond died, with many more look­ing on from the side­walk and street. Chalk hearts con­tain­ing the names of some peo­ple who were vic­tims of po­lice vi­o­lence were drawn on the drive­way.

By Mon­day, flow­ers had also been left at the scene, along with a hand­writ­ten sign that asked, “Why did you shoot and kill our neigh­bour?”

AP PHOTO

Peo­ple lis­ten as Bethany Bradley of Women’s March Min­nesota speaks Sun­day evening in Min­neapo­lis at the be­gin­ning of a vigil to re­mem­ber an Aus­tralian woman who was shot and killed late Satur­day by po­lice.

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