Father of Justine Damond, vows to get justice for daughter shot by police


The family of an Australian woman shot to death by a police officer responding to her emergency call vowed to win justice for her at a memorial service on the same night they had planned to be on a plane to her wedding.

Justine Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, choked back tears as he spoke of his 40-year-old daughter, whom he described as being “ripped from our arms” when she was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 15 July.

“We should be walking down the street smiling and laughing,” he said. “But now every step on the footpath is very painful. I feel crushed by sorrow.”

A pair of musicians play didgeridoos during the memorial service for Justine Damond, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. Damond was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on July 15 after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home. (Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via AP) (AP Star Tribune Anthony Souffle)

Hundreds of people, many wearing heart-shaped stickers, attended the event. An Australian flag was displayed on a stage next to Ms Damond’s picture.

Her fiance, Don Damond, said it “felt like a privilege to love Justine.”

They had planned to marry next week in Hawaii, and he pointed out the painful irony that the service — held at a lakefront stage near her home in southwest Minneapolis — coincided with the family’s original travel plans.

“I have immense gratitude for being the one she chose,” Mr Damond said.

“In Australia, they call it ‘You’re punching above your weight.’ I really had to step up to be at her level.”

Her family has set up the Justine Damond Social Justice Fund, which will support causes important to her, including those promoting equal treatment for all.

Justine Damond was known as Justine Ruszczyk before she took on the last name of her husband, who she had plans to marry next month (Reuters)

As Damond’s loved ones mourned their loss, the investigation into her death moved forward.

A judge approved a search warrant for investigators to examine the smartphones of two Minneapolis police officers in the shooting.

The search warrant application was filed Thursday by an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The agent requested permission to download data from the iPhones issued by the Minneapolis Police Department.

The application states that the information “may more clearly define” the officers’ actions before and after she was killed.

Investigators have said Officer Mohamed Noor shot the unarmed 40-year-old woman after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home.

Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American, has been identified by his attorney as the officer who fatally shot Justine Damond (City of Minneapolis via AP) (City of Minneapolis via AP)

Noor’s partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, told investigators a noise startled him just before Ms Damond approached their police SUV

Noor was in the passenger seat and shot Ms Damond through the open driver-side window. He has declined to be interviewed by investigators and cannot be compelled to do so.

The two officers had not activated their body cameras. Minneapolis police officers are now required to have those cameras on when they respond to calls or make traffic stops.

Ms Damond’s death led to a shake-up at the top of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Police Chief Janee Harteau resigned at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said the department needed new leadership.

Mayor Hodges nominated Medaria Arradondo, who had been assistant chief, to become chief.

This week a Minneapolis City Council committee unanimously endorsed Arradondo’s nomination.