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An Australian Bride-to-Be Was Fatally Shot by Minneapolis Police, & We Don’t Know Why

Minneapolis police shot and killed an Australian yoga teacher and bride-to-be on Saturday night after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home.

The Washington Post reports that Justine Damond called 911 after she heard a sound in the alley near her home, which she shared with her fiance. When the police arrived, things turned deadly. She had approached the driver of the police car while wearing her pajamas, and then the cop in the passenger seat shot her through the driver’s side car door.

Minneapolis police have yet to explain the circumstances surrounding the shooting, according to CNN. A medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, because she had a gunshot wound in her abdomen. 

The officers were wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting, but they were not turned on. What’s more, all Minneapolis police officers have had to wear body cameras since the end of 2016. Why? Because in July 2016, an unarmed black man named Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. It’s sounding like the city has a problem with police accountability here. 

An investigation is now taking place to determine the cause of the shooting and is being handled by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said authorities are trying to learn what happened that night. The police department has not released the name of the officer who shot Damond, but sources identified him as Mohammed Noor, according to NBC. The two officers involved are on paid administrative leave, which The Washington Post calls “standard procedure.”

CNN reports news of Damond’s death made headlines in Australia, where Damond was originally from. Damond was also a U.S. citizen and had lived in the States since April 2014. She and her fiance were going to get married in August. Even more heartbreaking is that Damond’s stepson-to-be, Zach, was devastated by losing his stepmother because they were already so close. 

“Basically, my mom’s dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know … I’m so done with all this violence,” Zach said in a video made by Women’s March Minnesota. “She was a very passionate woman, and she probably—she thought something bad is happening … Next thing I know, they take my best friend’s life.” Later that weekend, Zach was watering plants and neighbors came up and hugged him, according to the Post. The sidewalk was covered in chalk messages and flowers for Damond, a woman who was just trying to help keep her community safe. 

On Sunday, a vigil was held for Damond by members of Women’s March Minnesota. “This should not have happened… that could’ve been me, that could’ve been you, that could’ve been any of us,” one woman said. “And we’re gonna talk and we’re gonna work as a community to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges spoke out about Damond’s death in a Facebook post, saying she was “deeply disturbed” by the shooting. “This is a tragedy—for the family, for a neighborhood I know well, and for our whole city,” Hodges said. “There is a long road of healing ahead, and a lot of work remains to be done. I hope to help us along that path in any way I can.”

We’re hoping we get answers on why Damond had to die in an alley while just trying to be a good person. 

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Dania De La Hoya

Illinois State

Dania De La Hoya is a senior at Illinois State University double majoring in Journalism and French. She hopes to one day work for anything from a magazine to a newspaper to a TV station. Her biggest goal is to one day publish a fiction novel. When she is not writing or juggling three languages, she can be found binge-watching her latest obsession on Netflix, eating guacamole, or petting cute dogs. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @daniadelahoya.
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