Father of woman killed by officer pleads for justice

Father of woman killed by Mpls. officer pleads for justice

MINNEAPOLIS - A father's grief echoed across the globe early Tuesday, calling for justice in the fatal shooting of his daughter at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer.

Justine (Ruszczyk) Damond's father John Ruszczyk told reporters in Sydney, Australia Tuesday that Justine "was a beacon to all of us." He then asked that "the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death."

Ruszczyk said Damond was special to so many people. He said his grieving family went to a local Sydney beach Tuesday morning and "saw the blackness change to light."

RELATED: Australians, bride-to-be's dad rocked by Minneapolis police shooting

On Monday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office said Justine died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen and the manner of death is officially a homicide.

The report was released Monday night following an emotional day filled with many questions and still few answers. Justine Damond was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor late Saturday night in the alley behind her home on the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue South.

Damond's fiancé spoke out Monday afternoon, saying he and his family are "utterly devastated," by the loss of the 40-year-old woman. 

Don Damond read a statement from the front lawn of his home saying he doesn't know how to go on, now that she's gone. 

"Our hearts are broken," he said. "And we are utterly devastated by the loss of Justine."

Damond said Justine initially called 911 to report what she believed was an active sexual assault occurring nearby.

"Sadly, her family and I have been provided almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived," he said. "We lost the dearest of people and we are desperate for information."

Damond went on to say that "piecing together the moments before Justine's homicide would be would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy."

BCA officials have taken over the investigation and released a statement Monday, only saying no weapons were found at the scene and they are working to interview the two officers involved. Chief Janee Harteau, who had been out of the office on vacation, released a statement acknowledging the frustration voiced by many.

"I want to acknowledge the pain and frustration that family and community members have following the fatal officer involved shooting on Saturday night," Harteau wrote. "This is clearly a tragic death. I also want to assure you that I understand why so many people have so many questions at this point. I have many of the same questions and it is why we immediately asked for an external and independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting death. I've asked for the investigation to be expedited to provide transparency and to answer as many questions as quickly as we can.”

The attorney for Mohamed Noor, the man identified as the officer who killed Damond, says he started with the department in 2015. Noor and his partner have been placed on standard administrative leave while the case is investigated. 

 

© 2017 KARE-TV


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