clear
Thursday August 17th, 2017 1:43AM

Australian woman killed in Minneapolis police shooting

By The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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 pajamas, 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.

Neighbor 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 neighbors 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 neighbor?"

Damond relocated to Minneapolis and worked as a yoga instructor, meditation teacher and personal health and life coach, according to her business website.

She was originally trained as a veterinarian, and her website says she was "most passionate about supporting individuals and organizations to discover the power and potential within their own brains and hearts."

Damond's mother was Australian, and she spent her formative years there, but also spent some of her early childhood in the Buffalo, New York, area, said Peter Suffoletto, a cousin of Damond's father. Suffoletto said Damond frequently returned to New York state, and stayed with Suffoletto and his wife, Elaine, in Hamburg, New York, as recently as April.

"It's horrible," Elaine Suffoletto said. "She was the sweetest soul that I've ever met. She was loving and kind, understanding, spiritual, beautiful — and her loss is a loss for all of us."

Peter Suffoletto added: "She was just a loving free spirit ... We're devastated, beyond devastated."

Zach Damond, 22, said Damond was engaged to marry his father, Don Damond, in August, although she had already taken his name.

"Basically, my mom's dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," Zach Damond said. "I demand answers."

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges visited the scene, in a part of the city she once represented on the City Council. She said she was "heartsick" and "deeply disturbed" by the shooting.

"There are still many questions about what took place, and while the investigation is still in its early stages, I am asking the BCA to release as much information, as quickly as they are able to," she said in a statement Sunday.

___

Associated Press writers Jeff Baenen and Doug Glass contributed to this report from Minneapolis. Associated Press research Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Zach Damond is the son of the victim's fiancé, not the victim's son.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
UN reports rise in Afghan war deaths, blames insurgents
A U.N. report says Afghanistan's protracted war killed a record number of civilians during the first six months of this year, blaming the majority of the deaths on bombings by insurgents
9:31AM ( 12 minutes ago )
At least 8 killed in blast at mosque in northeastern Nigeria
At least 8 killed in blast at mosque in northeastern Nigeria; 4 suicide bombers also dead
9:13AM ( 30 minutes ago )
British royals arrive in Poland at start of a EU visit
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children have arrived in Poland, the first leg of a goodwill trip to two European Union nations that seeks to underscore Britain's friendly ties despite its negotiations to leave the bloc
9:00AM ( 43 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jordanian soldier sentenced to life for killing 3 US troops
Jordanian military court sentences soldier to life in shooting deaths of 3 US military trainers at air base
8:18AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trial set in case of donations for pope's hospital for kids
The Vatican is putting the former president and treasurer of its children's hospital on trial
8:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
S. Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North
South Korea has offered to talk with North Korea about easing animosities along their tense border and resuming reunions of families separated by their war in the 1950s
7:21AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Hearing is believing: Speech may be a clue to mental decline
New research suggests that changes to speech may indicate you're developing thinking problems
3:19AM ( 6 hours ago )
Health plan hinges on the young, but they're a tough sell
The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act hinges in part on enticing young adults into the insurance market, but they're a tough sell
3:17AM ( 6 hours ago )
What we learned at Wimbledon: Never count out Roger Federer
Roger Federer's eighth Wimbledon title gave him two Grand Slam trophies in 2017
2:06AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online National News
UN reports rise in Afghan war deaths, blames insurgents
A U.N. report says Afghanistan's protracted war killed a record number of civilians during the first six months of this year, blaming the majority of the deaths on bombings by insurgents
9:31AM ( 12 minutes ago )
At least 8 killed in blast at mosque in northeastern Nigeria
At least 8 killed in blast at mosque in northeastern Nigeria; 4 suicide bombers also dead
9:13AM ( 30 minutes ago )
British royals arrive in Poland at start of a EU visit
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children have arrived in Poland, the first leg of a goodwill trip to two European Union nations that seeks to underscore Britain's friendly ties despite its negotiations to leave the bloc
9:00AM ( 43 minutes ago )
Royal tradition: Counting the swans on the River Thames
Britain's annual tradition of Swan Upping begins its five day route
8:59AM ( 45 minutes ago )
Ed Sheeran posts set picture after 'Game of Thrones' cameo
Ed Sheeran has posted an on-set picture following his 'Game of Thrones' cameo, in which the 26-year-old British singer appeared as a Lannister soldier in Sunday's season premiere of the hit HBO fantasy drama.
8:53AM ( 50 minutes ago )