Following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman in Minnesota, the story of Justine Damond’s death led news sites back home, where friends demanded a federal investigation, and relatives were left searching for answers — and justice.
“We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare, but we awoke to the ugly truth and it hurt even more,” Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We went down to Freshy Beach this morning and saw the blackness change to light. Justine was a beacon to all of us, we only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death.”
Damond (nee Justine Ruszczyk) moved from Sydney to Minneapolis several years ago and was planning to marry her fiance, Don Damond, in the coming weeks. But the 40-year-old bride-to-be, who had already taken her fiance’s last name, was fatally shot Saturday night after she reportedly called 911 about a possible assault in the alley behind her home on the city’s southwest side.
After police arrived, an officer opened fire, fatally striking Damond, authorities in Minnesota said. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the Hennepin County medical examiner said Monday night, adding that her death has been ruled a homicide. “This is clearly a tragic death,” the Minneapolis police chief said in promising an independent investigation.
“Basically, my mom is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know, and I demand answers,” the slain woman’s stepson-to-be, Zach Damond, said in a video posted to Facebook. “I’m so done with all this violence. It’s so much bull—-.
“America sucks. These cops need to get trained differently. I need to move out of here.”
Nearly 9,000 miles away, in Australia — where lawmakers have passed some of the world’s most restrictive gun-control laws — people were struggling to make sense of Damond’s death.
“Why on Earth did U.S. cops kills Aussie who called for help,” the Courier-Mail, an Australian tabloid, asked on its cover.
“AMERICAN NIGHTMARE,” blared a headline on the front page of the Daily Telegraph, a Sydney newspaper.
That hometown headline, the Associated Press noted, “summarized Australia’s reaction in blunt terms.”
In Justine Damond’s native country, news of the meditation teacher’s baffling death has dominated the airwaves, newspapers and websites for days, feeding into Australians’ long-held fears about America’s notorious culture of gun violence.
“The country is infested with possibly more guns than people,” said Philip Alpers, a gun policy analyst with the University of Sydney who has studied the stark differences in gun laws between the nations. “We see America as a very risky place in terms of gun violence — and so does the rest of the world.”
SOURCE: Lindsey Bever
The Washington Post