Australian woman shot, killed by Minneapolis police
Photo credit: Stephen Govel Photography
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A memorial for Justine Damond is growing near the spot where she was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday night, though information about what exactly happened in that southwest Minneapolis alleyway remains scarce.
Officials confirmed in a release Sunday, and later at a press conference, that a woman died as the result of an officer-involved shooting and that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the incident. Beyond that, they ask for patience from the public as investigators continue to probe the incident.
According to the BCA, two Minneapolis police officers responded to a call of a possible assault around 11:30 p.m. Saturday evening in the Fulton neighborhood.
At one point an officer fired their weapon, killing the woman community members later identified as the original 911 caller.
Sunday evening activists and neighborhood residents gathered near the scene of the shooting for a vigil--identifying the victim as Justine Damond, an Australian national and instructor with the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community.
She lived in the area with her fiancé and son, teaching meditation classes that her students say never failed to bring a little bit of joy into their day.
"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."
Causing much confusion at the gathering--and in the community at large--was an admission from police that the officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time, nor did the squad car cameras capture any video of the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists, according to a release.
Both officers are now on standard administrative leave.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said on multiple platforms that she was "deeply disturbed" and "heartsick" over the incident, working through the night to get and share as much information as she can with the public.
"I've been heartsick every time there's been an officer-involved shooting," she said. "But it has been made clear to me by the people I represent that they want to make certain that's how I feel."
One of Hodges' opponents in this year's mayoral race and outspoken police reformist Nekima Levy-Pounds also attended the vigil honoring Damond, making an impassioned plea for justice to those present.
"This will happen again, and this community is not immune from it happening again," she said. "Our police forces are out of control."
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office is conducting an autopsy and will release more information through the BCA once the process is completed.
City officials say the investigation is in its early stages and more information will be available in the days to come.