An Australian woman has been shot dead by police responding to an emergency call in the US city of Minneapolis, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has confirmed Monday. The woman, aged in her 40s, was identified as Sydney native Justine Damond who lived in the 5000 block of Washburn, Minnesota with her fiancé.
According to Huffington Post, the officers responded to a report of a possible assault in an alley off W. 51st Street, in the southwest of the city, at around 11.30pm local time (4.30am AEST). At one point, one of the officers fired his weapon, fatally striking the woman for reasons that have yet to be confirmed.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced it already launched an investigation which is still in its early stages. The officers’ body cameras were reportedly not turned on and the squad-car camera was not able to capture the Minneapolis shooting, but the bureau claims investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.
Two officers involved are now on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure. Check out the police report below:
Press release from the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension regarding the officer-involved shooting on the 5100 block of Washburn Ave. South. pic.twitter.com/wRR9sA3gbt
— Minneapolis Police (@MinneapolisPD) July 16, 2017
Mayor Betsy Hodges, who held a news conference about it at City Hall late Sunday afternoon, called the Minneapolis shooting incident “tragic,” adding she is heartsick and deeply disturbed by it.
“We have few facts at this point,” Hodges said. “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.”
The community is also trying to figure out how Damond was shot down after calling the police to report an alley way assault. Zach Damond, 22, whose father was engaged to be married to the Australian in August, said his stepmom was shot for no reason. He demands answers and also suggests cops to be trained differently.
Almost 200 people gathered near the scene of the shooting for an evening vigil paying tribute to the victim.
— Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue) July 17, 2017
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australian Embassies or Consulates have no authority to intervene in local judicial matters. However, they are providing consular assistance to the woman’s family.
Justine Damond was originally trained as a veterinarian. She studied and practiced yoga and meditation for over 17 years, and became a qualified yoga instructor, a personal health and life coach and meditation teacher. She attended high school in Sydney. The story of her death was front-page news in Australia.