Minneapolis police kill unarmed woman in her pajamas

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Justine Ruszczyk Damond is a native of Australia.

WASHINGTON – A woman who was planning to get married next month was fatally shot Saturday night by a Minneapolis police officer whom she had summoned to investigate a possible assault near her home.

Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, had called police to report a noise and possible assault in the alley near the home she shared with her fiancé, Don Damond, and his son, Zach. She used her fiance’s last name professionally.

When a patrol car arrived in the alley just before 11:30 p.m. local time, Justine Damond approached the driver’s side. The officer in the passenger seat then allegedly “pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver’s side door,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting through three sources.

No weapon was recovered at the scene, the paper reported.

A statement from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said that neither officer’s body camera was on at the time and that the camera in the patrol car did not capture the shooting. Investigators are trying to determine if any video of the shooting exists, the statement said.

The victim with fiance, Don Damond, and his son, Zach. (Facebook)

Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

On LinkedIn, Damond described herself as a “Speaker, Coach & Consultant for Neuroscience & Meditation Based Change Initiatives.” The Australia native moved to Minneapolis from Sydney, her website says.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said at a Sunday new conference that she is “heartsick and deeply disturbed by the shooting.” She has pledged to keep residents updated about the investigation.

Zach Damond shared photos of the remembrances left for his father’s fiancee, whom he describes as his “Mom” and” best friend.” (zdmpls/Instagram)

About 200 people turned out for vigils for Damond on Sunday, according to local media reports. Many people used chalk to draw hearts and messages in pastel colors on the streets.

Since 2016, Minneapolis has required police officers to wear and activate their body cameras “at all times when they could reasonably anticipate that they may become involved in a situation for which activation is appropriate,” before any contact with a citizen. Unlike many body cameras used by police that are automatically activated, in Minneapolis the officers must manually turn them on.

Last week, 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis revealed that the use of body cameras among the city’s police officers when responding to 911 calls was low as 4 percent. Records show that on average officers across the city uploaded between 5.2 to 6.1 hours of body camera video footage for the entire month of May, the investigation found.

A police department spokesperson told the station that a commander is reviewing the body-camera program.

This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News.