Family, friends mourn Australian woman fatally shot by police

- Justine Damond, 40, was shot and killed by a police officer Sunday night after family and friends say she called 911 to report a possible assault near her house in southwest Minneapolis. 

Justine, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, lived with her fiancé, Don Damond and her future stepson Zach Damond on the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue South in the Fulton neighborhood. She moved to Minneapolis three years ago from Sydney, Australia, after she and Don got engaged. 

In a Facebook Live video recorded Sunday night, Zach referred to Justine as "mom" and "my best friend." He also said she was the one who called 911 because she probably thought "something bad was happening." 

Although Justine and Don were not yet married, she was already going by Justine Damond in her professional life. A former veterinary surgeon, Justine taught yoga and meditation at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, a center for conscious living in south Minneapolis. Her interest in “supporting people to heal and transform themselves developed after she saw family members suffer greatly from depression, alcoholism and cancer,” according to her personal website.

“After losing much of her family to cancer she has spent many years on a personal investigative journey to discover how habits and disease develop, and how people can change and live in joy, expressing their full potential. Her adventure led her initially away from western medicine, to the world of complimentary/alternative therapies, Mind-Body medicine, and studies in eastern philosophies, consciousness and quantum physics. But eventually she came to rest in the best place of all – right in the middle – where she embraces wisdom and knowledge from many sources,” her bio reads.

Justine's friend Jay Peterson said that when her friend got pregnant, Justine donated some of her own eggs to help her get pregnant.

"That's just the kind of person Justine was," he said.

Justine is a certified personal health and life coach and has practiced yoga and medication for more than 17 years. Below is a video of one of her most recent classes at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community. Community members plan to gather there Monday night in remembrance.

Neighbors and community activists held a celebration of life and rally for Justine in the Fulton neighborhood on Sunday night.

"Sadly we now [mourn the life of] Justine, a white woman living in southwest Minneapolis--who simply notified the police about an assault she was concerned about," Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality said. "She was being a good neighbor! And she lost her life being a good neighbor."

On Monday afternoon, community members called for an independent federal investigation into the fatal shooting.

“We demand justice. We demand her name be said over and over again –Justine,” said Bethany Bradley, an activist with Women’s March Minnesota who lives five blocks away from the shooting scene. “She is a person who brought healing to this community, she lead meditation classes. This is unacceptable and we won’t stand for it.”

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in – includes advertiser stories