Woman who called 911 shot, killed by Minneapolis police

A yoga and meditation teacher living in Minneapolis was fatally shot by police Saturday night after she called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home.

The woman was identified by family in local and Australian news reports as 40-year-old Justine Damond (nee Justine Ruszczyk), a native Australian who studied to be a veterinarian in Sydney before moving to Minneapolis to be with her fiance, Don Damond. The couple planned to marry next month, but Justine Damond had already taken her fiance’s last name.

The call for help came in just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to a news release from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state agency investigating the shooting. Two Minneapolis Police Department officers went to an alley near her home in the Fulton neighborhood, on the city’s southwest side.

“At one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman,” the statement said.

But the BCA offered few other details on what precipitated the shooting and, it said, neither of the responding officers had turned on their body cameras before the shooting. The squad car camera did not capture the incident, either.

Investigators are looking into whether other video of the shooting exists, the BCA statement said. When the state investigation is completed, the results will be given to the office of Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman for a review of whether any charges should be filed. A spokesman for Freeman declined to comment Monday about the shooting.

All Minneapolis police officers have worn body cameras since the end of 2016, according to the city, a policy decision that was announced last July, after a black motorist named Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer in the Twin Cities area.

“We all want to know more; I want to know more,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. “I call on the BCA … to share as much information as they can as quickly as they possibly can.”

The mayor, who represented the Fulton area as a city council member, called the shooting a “tragic incident” and said she has questions about why the officers’ body cameras were not turned on.

“Tonight, I’m sad, and disturbed,” Hodges wrote on Facebook Sunday night. “This is a tragedy — for the family, for a neighborhood I know well, and for our whole city. … There is a long road of healing ahead, and a lot of work remains to be done. I hope to help us along that path in any way I can.

“But right now, I’m sad, disturbed, and looking for more answers, like many of you.”

Authorities told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Early stages of investigation

Three people “with knowledge of the incident” told the Star Tribune that the responding officers pulled into the alley behind Damond’s home. The woman, wearing pajamas, approached the driver’s side door and was talking to the driver, reported the Star Tribune. The officer in the passenger seat shot Damond through the driver’s side door, the three people told the newspaper.

When asked about the Star Tribune report, Jill Oliveira, spokeswoman for the BCA, said only that investigators are still working to “learn more about the events that transpired.”

“We will provide details as the investigation continues. However, at this point the BCA is in the very early stages of the investigation.”

In a video posted to the Women’s March Minnesota Facebook page, Zach Damond, Justine Damond’s stepson-to-be, said: “Basically, my mom’s dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know. I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call the police and demand answers. I’m so done with all this violence.”

He added: “America sucks. These cops need to get trained differently. I need to move out of here.”

Don Damond was away on a business trip when the shooting occurred. His son, Zach, said his future stepmother heard a sound in the alley so she called police “and the cops showed up.”

“She was a very passionate woman, and she probably – she thought something bad is happening,” the 22-year-old said. “Next thing I know, they take my best friend’s life.”

Another woman in the video, Bethany Bradley of Women’s March Minnesota, said police were not being transparent or sharing information with the family. She also lives in the Fulton area.

Damond’s death has become a top story in Australia, where her photo is splashed across the top of major news sites. Those same sites reported that the shooting has shocked and confused friends back home.

“How someone teaching meditation and spreading love can be shot dead by police while in her pajamas is beyond comprehension,” Matt Omo, Damond’s friend, told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

Alisa Monaghan, another friend, said Damond moved to the United States to “follow her heart” and to find “new life,” the ABC reported.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it is providing consular assistance to Damond’s family.

In a statement released by the agency, Damond’s family in Australia said: “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. We will not make any further comment or statement and ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you.”

Friends and family are demanding a federal investigation into her death, News.com.au reported. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment Monday.

Both Damonds taught meditation and spirituality classes at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community Center.

Justine Damond attended high school in Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a bachelor’s of veterinary science degree in 2002, according to the ABC.

Her personal and business website says she was a qualified yoga instructor, meditation teacher and a personal health and life coach.

The website says Damond’s “interest in supporting people to heal and transform themselves developed after she saw family members suffer greatly from depression, alcoholism and cancer.”

It continued: “After losing much of her family to cancer she has spent many years on a personal investigative journey to discover how habits and disease develop, and how people can change and live in joy, expressing their full potential.”

Three mayoral candidates, Minneapolis NAACP officials and about 250 other friends, family and community members attended a vigil Sunday night where Damond was shot.

“Many of us who have been on the front lines have been warning the public, saying if they would do this to our fathers and our sons and our brothers and our sisters and our mothers, they will do it to you next,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the candidates and a civil rights attorney. “I really hope that this is a wake-up call for this community to stop allowing things to be divided on the lines of race and on the lines of socio-economic status.”

‘She was loved’

Friends and neighbors called her a “peaceful, lovely woman” who loved animals and helping others.

“This woman was a beautiful light,” Bradley said at the vigil. “She was a healer. She was loved. And she should be alive. She should still be here.”

Damond is one of at least 524 people fatally shot by police in the United States this year, and the fifth such person in Minnesota, according to a Washington Post database tracking such deaths. Among people shot by police, she represents an outlier: Men make up the overwhelming majority of people fatally shot by officers. Damond is at least the 23rd woman fatally shot by an officer this year, accounting for just over 4 percent of all fatal police shootings.

Damond’s death is the latest to draw scrutiny to how police officers in the Twin Cities area use deadly force.

Last year, an officer from a suburb fatally shot Philando Castile, a local school worker, during a traffic stop that was partially streamed online. Castile’s death in July 2016 set off heated demonstrations that continued for weeks. Protests flared up again last month when a jury acquitted Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot Castile, on all counts.

ad-high_impact_4
News
President Donald Trump speaks at White House ceremony for French president
President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony for French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at White House ceremony
President Emmanuel Macron speaks at Tuesday ceremony welcoming the French leader and his wife to the White House. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Toronto Attack Suspect Charged in Van Attack
Toronto Attack Suspect Charged in Van Attack According to the Associated Press, 25-year-old Alek Minassian was charged with 10 counts of 1st degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Minassian appeared in court Tuesday morning after mowing down and killing 10 people in a rented van Monday in downtown Toronto. 15 others were also injured in the attack. Authorities have not announced a motive. “As was indicated last night by our public security minister, at this time we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack, but obviously the investigations continue.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
1 dead in shooting at southwest Las Vegas home
A dispute between roommates led to the fatal shooting of one man in the backyard of their southwest Las Vegas Valley home on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
9 Dead and at Least 16 Injured as Van Hits Pedestrians in Toronto
9 Dead and at Least 16 Injured as Van Hits Pedestrians in Toronto The driver of the van is now in custody after climbing the curb and plowing through crowds of people. Witnesses describe a scene of chaos as the trail stretched about one mile before coming to a stop. Witness, via CTV Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made initial statements after learning of the incident. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
High School Senior Wins Writing Scholarship
Kye "Kai" Catarata was presented with a $1,000 scholarship at the Las Vegas Writer's Conference Saturday at the Tuscany Suites and Casino.
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child
It's a Boy! Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Third Child Kensington Palace announced that Prince William and Princess Kate traveled by car to the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in central London Monday. The child was born at 11:01 a.m. local time, weighing 8lbs 7oz. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well. Kensington Palace The new addition will be fifth in line to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II's sixth great-grandchild and third grandchild of Charles, Prince of Wales. Catherine and Harry married in 2011 and have two other children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, who turns 3 next month.
Dr. Abbatangelo: Professor, Pageant Queen and Animal Dentist
Dr. Tina M. Abbatangelo, a professor of clinical practice at UNLV dentist school spends her free time and money traveling across the country to help treat exotic animals.
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with RJ
Joseph Otting, U.S. comptroller of the currency during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Otting oversees all national banks, credit unions, mutual savings banks, coops and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Paris Wade discusses about his “Liberty Writers” website
Paris Wade, who made national headlines for operating a fake news website and boasts about getting President Donald Trump elected in 2016, speaks during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Wade is running for Nevada Assembly. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers.
Las Vegas Metro police and Henderson police officers ride their bikes during the Vegas Team's last practice rides in preparation for the Police Unity Tour from New Jersey to Washington D.C. to commemorate fallen officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal @bizutesfaye
UNLV students walk out of class on national walkout day
UNLV students and supporters chanted, marched and rallied on national walkout day Friday, April 20 on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Captain Sasha Larkin Discusses Challenges, Progress in North West
Captain Sasha Larkin, of Metro's Northwest Area Command, discusses what issues face the northwest valley's residents and what police are doing to address them.
Southwest giving passengers on deadly flight $5,000 for compensation
Passengers on Flight 1380 have been receiving checks as a gesture of goodwill from the airline.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
LVMPD Arrests Suspect in Sunset Park Shooting
Captain Robert Plummer held a press conference at LVMPD headquarters Thursday to provide updates on the arrest of Anthony J. Wrobel, accused of killing a Venetian executive and wounding one other in a shooting on Sunday.
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story
Two Black Men Arrested at Starbucks Share Their Story Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson sat down with ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Thursday and said the Starbucks manager called the police two minutes after they arrived. Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' Donte Robinson, to 'Good Morning America' The men were meeting with a friend for a business meeting at the store’s location at around 3:45 pm on April 12 and declined to make any purchases. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a public apology and vowed to fix the issue by closing 8,000 stores nationwide next month for training on unconscious bias. Both Nelson and Robinson were released without charges after spending hours in jail, and the manager is no longer with the company.
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots
Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of the Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots Tammie Jo Shults is being called a hero after safely landing the crippled Southwest Flight 1380 in Philadelphia. According to a spokesperson, Shults began her Navy career in 1985 and was one of the first female pilots to “transition to tactical aircraft.” She served for another eight years before moving to the Naval Reserve, retiring completely in 2001 with the rank of Lt. Commander. The Southwest flight, which was headed for Dallas from New York, was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines blew. One passenger was killed in the explosion when shrapnel flew through a window. Seven others suffered minor injuries aboard the flight, which carried 149 people. Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News Passenger Peggy Phillips, to NBC News
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Artist, Community Paint Winchester Skate Park
Andrew Schoultz, a Los Angeles-based artist with an upcoming exhibit at UNLV's Barrick Museum, painted the skate park at Winchester Cultural Center on Tuesday.
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
David Copperfield executive producer testifies during the magician's civil trial
A British tourist is suing illusionist David Copperfield saying he was injured during a trick. Chris Kenner, executive producer for illusionist David Copperfield, was on the witness stand all day Tuesday, April 17. Kenner testified that a business manager for the show talked to the man after he fell. Kenner testified that the tourist, Gavin Cox, said he was OK moments after the fall. Cox later told the crew: “Maybe I will have this looked at.” Copperfield is the next witness in line for Cox’s attorneys. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
CCSD Teacher Is a Living Organ Donor
June Monroe speaks about her kidney donation to her brother and advocacy work with the National Kidney Foundation.
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest
Shadow Ridge High School teachers protest. Teachers are upset over many things, including the fact that the district is fighting an arbitration ruling for pay raises. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Clark County commissioners debate getting rid of Henderson, North Las Vegas constables
Clark County commissioners are debating whether to get rid of the Henderson and North Las Vegas constables after RJ's story pointing out questionable spending by the Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing
1 Dead, 7 Injured After Southwest Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 out of New York, which had 143 passengers and a crew of five onboard, landed in Philadelphia on Tuesday. According to NBC10, a female passenger was partially sucked out of a broken window, which was a result of the plane's engine ripping apart. It's not known if the female passenger was the one who died. Emergency personnel met the battered plane upon its landing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the blown engine resulted in a smashed window and a damaged fuselage. Southwest Airlines The FAA said that the NTSB will lead the investigation into what happened.
Single vehicle crash kills man
A man died Tuesday morning in a single-vehicle crash in northeast Las Vegas. The crash occurred Tuesday morning on the 1900 block of Pasadena Boulevard, near Lake Mead Boulevard and Mt. Hood Street. Police had few details, but Metro's fatal detail was on the scene investigating.
Sunset Park Homicide (update 2)
LVMPD gives update about suspect in homicide at Sunset Park (Blake Apgar)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like