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Anger grows after police shoot Aust woman

by
July 18, 2017

Relatives and neighbours of Justine Damond, shot by US police, have demanded answers.

The US police officer who shot dead Australian spiritual healer and meditation coach Justine Damond in a Minneapolis alley has been identified as having little more than two years' experience on the force.

Officer Mohammed Noor shot Ms Damond more than once from the passenger seat of his police vehicle.

"We take this seriously with great compassion for all persons who are being touched by this," Officer Noor's attorney Tom Plunkett told Minneapolis TV station WCCO.

Mr Plunkett confirmed his client fired at the 40-year-old Australian bride-to-be, according to WCCO.

Ms Damond called police just before midnight on Saturday after hearing a possible assault taking place in an alley behind her Minneapolis home and was in her pyjamas when she approached Noor's police vehicle.

Noor, the first Somali-American officer at Minneapolis' 5th Precinct, was in the passenger seat and fired multiple times across his partner at Ms Damond, another Minneapolis TV station, KSTP, reported.

A mobile phone was reportedly found near Ms Damond's body.

The shooting has shattered Ms Damond's family and friends in Australia and the US and outraged residents of Minneapolis and adjoining St Paul who are still reeling from other high-profile police shootings.

Ms Damond's death from a police gun has also generated widespread media coverage across the US.

Officer Noor and his partner's body cameras were not turned on and their police car dashboard camera did not capture the incident.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges told reporters she has "a lot of questions why the body cameras were not on".

"I know many of you are frustrated at the pace of information being released around Saturday night's shooting," Mayor Hodges wrote in a Monday Facebook posting.

"I am too."

Ms Damond's death is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, not the Minneapolis Police Department.

Officer Noor and his partner are on paid administrative leave.

Ms Damond, formerly Justine Ruszczyk who took her American fiance Don Damond's surname before next month's planned wedding, moved to the US in 2015 and worked as a spiritual mentor in the Minneapolis area.

Her violent death was a shock to relatives, friends and colleagues who described her as a peaceful, calm and a positive force.

Ms Damond's soon-to-be stepson, Zach Damond, is desperate for answers.

"My mum is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," the 22-year-old said.

Her family in Sydney has called for privacy.

"This is a very difficult time for our family. We are trying to come to terms with this tragedy and to understand why this has happened," they said in a statement.

The incident has shone new light on police shootings in the US.

The Washington Post reported Ms Damond is one of at least 524 people fatally shot by police in the US this year and and the fifth in Minnesota

The Minneapolis-St Paul area is still reeling from the acquittal last month of a police officer who shot dead a man, Philando Castile, during a traffic stop while Castile's girlfriend live streamed the horrifying incident.

Violent protests also flared after two officers fatally shot 24-year-old Jamar Clark in 2015 and were not charged.

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