Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Australian Woman Shot Dead by Minneapolis Police Officers After Calling 911 Herself

By Saphora Smith

NBC News
July 17, 2017

An Australian woman described as a spiritual healer was shot dead by police in Minneapolis Saturday after she reportedly called 911 herself — leaving angry friends and family searching for answers in a city that has just been at the center of another high-profile police shooting.

The killing of Justine Ruszczyk, who used the last name Damond, prompted hundreds of mourners to protest at the site of the shooting Sunday, demanding their questions be answered, according to NBC-affiliate KARE.

Damond, 40, ran meditation workshops at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, which in a Facebook post called her "one of the most loving people you would ever meet."

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said it was investigating the incident, although there appeared to be no video footage because the officers’ body cameras were switched off.

The police department said the squad car's camera also failed to capture the incident.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement to NBC News that they were "providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian woman who died in a shooting in Minneapolis," but did not comment further, citing privacy concerns.

They also put out a brief statement on behalf of the woman's family:

"This is a very difficult time for our family. We are trying to come to terms with this tragedy and to understand why this has happened," read the statement. No further comment was given.

The tragedy unraveled shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday local time (12:30 a.m. Sunday ET), when two police officers responded to call about a disturbance in southwest Minneapolis, officials said.

What happened next remains unclear but the department said at one point an officer fired a weapon killing the woman.

According to the woman’s stepson, Zach Damond, she had called the police after hearing a noise near her home.

“My mom is dead, because a police officer shot her, for reasons I don’t know, and I demand answers” he said in a tearful Facebook Live video. "I guess she thought that something bad was happening and, next thing I know, they take my best friends life."

Damond was originally from Sydney, Australia, but lived with her fiancé in Minneapolis, according to the Star Tribune. The couple were due to get married next month, the paper reported.

Friends and neighbors described her as a “loving person” whose “whole mission in life was to help people with any problem,” KARE reported.

In a statement on Facebook, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said Sunday, "I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by what occurred last night. My thoughts are now with everyone affected by this tragic incident, especially the deceased woman and her family. The City will continue to provide updated information on this incident, and the BCA’s investigation, as soon as we have it."

Last July, a suburban Minneapolis police officer fatally shot a black man during a traffic stop, that was live-streamed on Facebook. Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot school cafeteria worker and licenced gun owner Philando Castile, 32, in front of his girlfriend and her young daughter, sparking outcry and protests.

Last month Yanez was found not guilty of manslaughter and other charges for killing Castile.

And Yanez was soon after given $48,500 buy-out package to leave the force, prompting even more outrage.



Justine Damond, 40, is from Australia. She was engaged to marry an American in about a month. She was shot to death by a Minneapolis P. D. officer under circumstances that are certainly puzzling and tragic and may have a couple of other appropriate adjectives.

Saturday night the dead woman called the cops to report an assault. Two cops responded to the 5100 block of Washburn St. At some point one of the cops shot, and the woman died. Both officers had body cams. Neither body cam was turned on.

According to the woman's son, Zach Damond, 22, called the cops after hearing something untoward in a nearby alley.

Ms. Damond (legal name Ruszczyk) is white and, if her photo on the net is typical, not very threatening looking. Her fiancé, don Damond, was out of town on a business trip.

I confess this has me puzzled, perhaps due to very limited information. Australian English and American English are similar enough there should not have been a large communication problem. If I recall correctly Australia does have an armed police force so Ms. Damond would have known she was probably interacting with people with guns.

I am reasonably confident the truth will out, but I admit to being curious as to why neither officer had his body cam turned on. That worries me more than a little.

FURTHER INFO: The two officers present arrived at the scene in one patrol car. Ms. Damond was present in the ally, wearing pajamas. She was talking to the office who was behind the wheel when the passenger officer shot her, firing thru the front door of the police car.


bob walsh said...

The shooter in this sorry tale has been identified as a Somali native, Mohamed Noor, who had two years with the department. The local prosecutor has already said that the cops should have turned on their body cams as soon as they began interacting with the woman in the alley. I am inclined to agree. I suspect that Officer Noor may be in some deep doodoo here. His partner may be there also, depending on what sort of report the partner generates or has already generated.

Cops are not required to be perfect. They are required to be reasonable. I am having a hard time figuring out how shooting this woman from the inside of the police car thru the car door is reasonable, though I admit to having insufficient data to form a solid opinion.

Dorina said...

If Americans believe this incident has caused outcry in Australia, it hasn't.
Of course the story has been reported by media, but there's been no public or political outcries for 'justice'.
A peaceful candlelit vigil took place last night in Sydney for the victim.