An Australian woman was fatally shot overnight Saturday by Minneapolis police officers who did not have their body cameras turned on, officials said.
The woman, Justine Damond, was shot as the officers were responding to her 911 call of an assault near her home in the suburb of Fulton. Ms. Damond, 40, who is from Sydney and who also went by the name Justine Ruszczyk, was engaged to be married to an American man, according to Australian news media reports.
Police officials said they were looking into the circumstances of the shooting, and why the officers were not using their body cameras.
“Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue South just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday,” a statement by the State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said. “At one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.”
“The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident,” the statement added.
Minneapolis police officers are required to have body cameras on when responding to “critical incidents.” A critical incident is defined as “the use of deadly force by or against a Minneapolis police officer; death or great bodily harm to an officer; death or great bodily harm to a person who is in the custody or control of an officer; any action by an officer that causes or is intended to cause death or great bodily harm.”
Betsy Hodges, the mayor of Minneapolis, said she was “deeply disturbed” by the killing.
“As mayor of our city, a wife, and a grandmother, I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by what occurred last night,” she posted on Facebook.
Ms. Damond’s website said she was trained as a veterinarian and was now working as a spiritual healer and meditation coach.
“Her interest in supporting people to heal and transform themselves developed after she saw family members suffer greatly from depression, alcoholism and cancer,” her website said. “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.”
The website said she had recently relocated to Minneapolis. The Sydney Morning Herald said that she was engaged to be married to Don Damond in August.
Officers with the Minneapolis Police Department began wearing body cameras last summer.
“They are not the final step in transparency, but they are a big step toward it,” the city government said in a statement announcing the change.
Ms. Damond conducted meditation workshops at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, which posted a tribute to her on its Facebook page.
“We are so sad to report the tragic shooting of Justine Damond,” the post said. “Justine was one of the most loving people you would ever meet. We can’t even imagine LHSC with out her.”