Australian woman killed in Minneapolis police shooting – Orange County Register

By AMY FORLITI

MINNEAPOLIS  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…

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