Minneapolis police fatally shot an Australian woman, and their bodycams were turned off

Minneapolis police shot an Australian woman dead
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/The Associated Press)

Late Saturday night, two police officers in Minneapolis responded "to a 911 call of a possible assault" in the upscale Fulton neighborhood, and "at one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman," Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said in a statement on Sunday. That woman has been identified as Justine Damond, a 40-year-old Australian woman engaged to be married to an American, Don Damond, in August, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. "The officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident," BCA said in the statement.

On Sunday evening, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the body cameras being turned off, in apparent violation of recently enacted regulations, is one of the questions she has about the "tragic" shooting. "I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened last night," she added.

Don Damond's 22-year-old son, Zach Damond, showed up at the scene of the shooting at about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, before heading to the airport to pick up his father, 50, arriving from a business trip. "Basically, my mom's dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," he said. "I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I'm so done with all this violence." He said Justine, whose maiden name is Ruszczyk, called 911 because she "heard a sound in the alley."

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When the two officers arrived in the alley in one squad car, "Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver's side door and was talking to the driver," the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, citing "three sources with knowledge of the incident." "The officer in the passenger seat pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver's side door, sources said. No weapon was found at the scene." The two officers are on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.