Ser­vice mourns woman killed by po­lice of­fi­cer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - JEFF BAENEN In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Jeff McMur­ray of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

MIN­NE­AP­O­LIS — The fa­ther and the fi­ance of an Aus­tralian woman shot to death by a Min­ne­ap­o­lis po­lice of­fi­cer re­spond­ing to her 911 call grieved at a pub­lic me­mo­rial ser­vice Fri­day night, the same time the fam­ily had planned to be on a plane to her wed­ding.

Jus­tine Da­mond’s fa­ther, John Ruszczyk, choked back tears as he vowed to find jus­tice for his 40-year-old daugh­ter, whom he de­scribed as be­ing “ripped from our arms.”

“We should be walk­ing down the street smil­ing and laugh­ing,” he said of his first visit to Min­ne­ap­o­lis. “But now ev­ery step on the foot path is very painful. I feel crushed by sor­row.”

Hun­dreds of peo­ple, many wear­ing heart-shaped stick­ers, at­tended the me­mo­rial ser­vice. An Aus­tralian flag was dis­played promi­nently on the stage next to the pic­ture of Da­mond, who had al­ready taken her fi­ance’s last name.

Her fi­ance, Don Da­mond, said it “felt like a priv­i­lege to love Jus­tine.” They had planned to be mar­ried this Thurs­day in Hawaii, and he pointed out the painful irony that the ser­vice — held at a lake­front stage near her home in south­west Min­ne­ap­o­lis — co­in­cided with the fam­ily’s orig­i­nal travel plans.

He read some of the up­lift­ing mes­sages she would free-write ev­ery morn­ing and called her a “liv­ing ex­am­ple of self-mas­tery.”

Her fam­ily has set up the Jus­tine Da­mond So­cial Jus­tice Fund, which will sup­port causes im­por­tant to her, in­clud­ing those pro­mot­ing equal treat­ment for all.

As Da­mond’s loved ones mourned their loss, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her death moved for­ward. A judge ap­proved a search war­rant for in­ves­ti­ga­tors to ex­am­ine the cell­phones of two Min­ne­ap­o­lis po­lice of­fi­cers in the shoot­ing.

The search war­rant ap­pli­ca­tion was filed Thurs­day by an agent with the Min­nesota Bureau of Crim­i­nal Ap­pre­hen­sion. The agent re­quested per­mis­sion to down­load data from the Ap­ple iPhones is­sued by the Min­ne­ap­o­lis Po­lice De­part­ment.

The ap­pli­ca­tion states that the in­for­ma­tion “may more clearly de­fine” the of­fi­cers’ ac­tions be­fore and af­ter she was killed July 15. In­ves­ti­ga­tors have said of­fi­cer Mo­hamed Noor shot Da­mond af­ter she called 911 to re­port a pos­si­ble sex­ual as­sault near her home.

Noor’s part­ner, of­fi­cer Matthew Har­rity, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors a noise star­tled him just be­fore Da­mond ap­proached their po­lice SUV. Noor was in the pas­sen­ger seat and shot Da­mond through the open driver-side win­dow. Noor has de­clined to be in­ter­viewed by in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

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