Justine Damond, a trained veterinarian-turned- alternative healer who was set to get married to her fiancé next month was shot dead under mysterious circumstances by a Minneapolis police officer Saturday night shortly after family members say she called 911 to report a possible assault in an alley near her home.
A news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said the shooting, which occurred in Minneapolis, is still under investigation but provided little information on the details surrounding Justine's death.
It explained that just before 11:30 p.m., two Minneapolis police officers responded to the 911 call about the possible assault in the alley.
"At one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman," the release said without stating any details on why Damond was shot or even her identity.
The Star Tribune identified Damond, 40, as the victim, however, and noted that she had recently moved from Sydney, Australia, to be with her fiancé, Don Damond, 50.
Sources with knowledge of the incident, however, told the Tribune that two officers in one squad car, pulled into the alley and Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver's side door and was talking to the driver. The unidentified officer in the passenger seat then pulled his gun and shot Justine through the driver's side door. The sources further noted that no weapon was found at the scene.
Don Damond's son, Zach, 22, told the Tribune that his father and Justine had planned to wed in August. Justine's maiden name was Justine Ruszczyk but she referred to herself as Damond in anticipation of the planned nuptials.
"Basically, my mom's dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," Zach said. "I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I'm so done with all this violence."
According to the police statement on what happened, there may not be any video evidence of the shooting available.
"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 police statement said. "When the investigation is complete, the BCA will turn its findings over to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for review."
Hannah, 21, a close family friend, who did not want to share her last name, told the Tribune that Damond was a "spiritual healer."
"I don't know what she was doing out," Hannah said. "She's such a kind woman. She took me in when I was in a tough situation and helped me with whatever I needed."
Originally trained as a veterinarian, Damond 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," the deceased woman's website says about her.
"Her interest in supporting people to heal and transform themselves developed after she saw family members suffer greatly from depression, alcoholism and cancer. 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."
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a pressed conference that she was left "heartsick" by the shooting.
"I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened last night," she said.
"We have few facts at this point," she added. "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."