Fiance of Justine Damond, shot dead by US police officer, pleads for more information
The fiance of the Australian woman shot dead by a police officer near their home in Minneapolis, US, has described her as a loving and generous woman, while pleading with local authorities for more information about her last moments alive.
Justine Damond, 40, was shot dead on Saturday in an alley in the suburban Minneapolis neighbourhood of Fulton, after phoning 911 to report what she believed was a sexual assault occurring nearby.
She went outside in her pyjamas, and a short time later was shot dead by a police officer, who has been identified as Mohamed Noor.
Her tearful fiance, Don Damond, gave a brief statement to the press on Monday, supported by family members.
"Our hearts are broken, and we are utterly devastated by the loss of Justine," he said, with a voice that cracked at times with emotion.
"Sadly, her family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived," he said.
"We lost the dearest of people, and we are desperate for information. Piecing together Justine's last moments, before the homicide, would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy."
Damond's 22-year-old son Zach, who has described Justine Damond as his mum and "best friend", stood behind Damond during the press conference, his hands resting lovingly on his dad's shoulders.
The state body investigating the shooting, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said one officer fired his gun at the woman and that no other weapon was found at the scene, confirming Damond, who was also known as Justine Ruszczyk, was unarmed at the time.
Audio released on Monday by Minnesota Police Clips revealed the officers calling in the incident to the dispatcher. "Shots fired ... we have one down," one of the officers says.
Several local media outlets have reported the officer was sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle when he fired the fatal shots, but what precisely led to the shooting remains a mystery.
The police officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time of the shooting, a fact that has already been condemned by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Don Damond echoed friends and family of his fiancee in describing her as a woman with a warm and loving nature.
"To everyone who knew her, she touched so many people with her loving and generous heart," he said on Monday. "She was a teacher to so many, in living a life of openness, love and kindness."
"Our lives are forever changed as a result of knowing her. She was so kind, and so darn funny. She made us all laugh with her great wit, and her humour.
"It is difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life. We ask that you respect our privacy as we grieve the loss of our dear Justine."
A trained veterinarian who later became a meditation teacher, yoga instructor and life coach, Justine Damond moved to the US in 2015 to be with Damond, taking on the use of his surname even before they were married. According to the Star Tribune, their wedding was due to take place next month.
- Sydney Morning Herald