Society
Society

Police Kill Yoga Teacher Who Called 911 About Assault (Photo)

| by Michael Allen

Justine Damond, a 40-year-old woman from Sydney, Australia, was fatally shot and killed on July 14 by police in Minneapolis after calling 911 about a possible assault.

Three unidentified sources told the Star Tribune the shooting happened in an alley behind Damond's home.

Damond, a yoga instructor dressed in pajamas, reportedly walked out to the police car, and talked to the driver. She was then allegedly killed by the officer in the passenger's seat.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said the officers' body cams were not turned on:

The BCA's investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete ... The officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.

The officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard department procedure. The police department did not identify the officers, but multiple sources told KTSP the officer who killed Damond was Mohamed Noor.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges called the shooting "tragic" during a press conference on July 15, reports the Star Tribune:

I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened last night. I know the neighborhood well. We have few facts at this point. 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 bodycams weren’t on.

According to neighbors, the alley in which Damond was shot is well lit with three telephone pole lights and motion-detector lights on garages.

There was a community vigil on the evening of July 15 that brought about 50 neighbors and friends to the site where Damond was shot. There were also 200 or more bystanders on a nearby street and sidewalk.

"This woman was a beautiful light," Bethany Bradley of Women’s March Minnesota said. "She was loved. She should still be here. It’s OK to cry, it’s OK to scream. Share what you’re feeling."

Leslie Redmond of the Minneapolis NAACP said the organization will "stand in solidarity with the family."

Nekima Levy-Pounds, a mayoral candidate, added: "I hope and pray this is a wake-up call for the community to stop being divided by race and socioeconomic status ... for treating everybody with respect."

Damond's website describes her background:

Originally trained as a Veterinarian, Justine has also studied and practiced yoga and meditation for over 17 years, is a qualified yoga instructor, a personal health and life coach (EFT, Theta and Reconnective Healing practitioner) and meditation teacher, embracing and teaching the neuro-scientific benefits of meditation. Justine Ruszczyk is also a certified organisational consultant for Dr Joe Dispenza’s ‘NeuroChange Solutions’ conscious corporate change initiative.

The death of Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, was headline news in Australia.

"How someone teaching meditation and spreading love can be shot dead by police while in her pajamas is beyond comprehension," Matt Omo, a friend of Damond, told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

According to The Washington Post, U.S. police killed 523 people from Jan. 1 to July 15.

Sources: Star Tribune, KTSP, JustineDamond.com, ABCThe Washington Post / Photo credit: Tony Webster/Flickr (2), Justine Damond via Star Tribune

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