An Australian Woman Has Been Killed in a Police Shooting in the US
Justine Damond was shot by the officers responding to her 911 call.
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Authorities in the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota are investigating the police-involved shooting of an Australian woman, who was killed by officers over the weekend. It's believed Justine Damond called 911 thinking there had been a possible assault in the alley behind the house she was living in.
"Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault... just before 11:30 PM Saturday," the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said in a media release. "At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman."
According to local media, the 40-year-old approached the officers' squad car in the alley. "Damond, in her [pyjamas], went to the driver's side door and was talking to the driver. The officer in the passenger seat pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver's side door," the Star Tribune is reporting. There was no weapon found at the scene.
Damond lived with her fiancé, Don, who was away on a business trip at the time of the shooting. The pair had planned to marry in August.
On Sunday morning, the Damond's soon-to-be stepson, Zach, 22, arrived on the scene and gave a brief statement to reporters. "Basically my mom's dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," he said. "I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I'm so done with all this violence."
Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges called the shooting "tragic" in a press conference on Sunday afternoon. She called for answers as to why the officers' body cameras were not turned on during the incident. Police in Minneapolis started wearing body cams in July, 2016, as part of an effort to improve relations with the community.
"I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened last night," Mayor Hodges said. "We have few facts at this point... I want to know more. I call on the BCA to share as much information with all of us as quickly as they can. I have questions about why the body cams weren't on."
Damond, previously known as Justine Ruszczyk, was a University of Sydney-trained veterinarian, who was teaching meditation and yoga. Her family back in Australia made a brief statement on Monday saying they were shocked by her death.
According to the Washington Post, 523 people have been killed by police in the US so far in 2017.
More information as this story develops.