Fa­ther, fi­ancé mourn woman shot by po­lice

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jeff Bae­nen Star Tri­bune

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 40year-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 at­tended the memo­rial ser­vice. An Aus­tralian flag was dis­played promi­nently on the stage next to Da­mond’s picture.

Her fi­ance, Don Da­mond, said it “felt like a priv­i­lege to love Jus­tine.” They were get­ting mar­ried next week 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.”

“I have im­mense grat­i­tude for be­ing the one she chose,” Don Da­mond said. “In Aus­tralia, they call it ‘you’re punch­ing above your weight.’ I re­ally had to step up to be at her level.”

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.

With the in­ves­ti­ga­tion mov­ing for­ward, A judge ap­proved a search war­rant to ex­am­ine the smart­phones of two Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cers in the shoot­ing.

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