An Australian woman has been shot dead by police in the United States, after calling 911 to report a disturbance in a nearby alley.
Justine Ruszczyk was at home on Saturday night when she called police to report a noise and a possible assault in a nearby alley in South Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When police arrived at her home at around 11.30pm, ‘one officer fired their weapon, fatally striking the woman’ as she reportedly stood in her driveway.
Ms Ruszczyk, 40, was originally from Sydney but had been living in the US for three years and was due to marry American businessman Don Damond, 50, next month.
Shattered friends said the woman and her fiance were due to marry next month, with Ms Ruszczyk already using her husband’s surname Damond on her website.
At the time of the shooting Mr Damond, the vice president of Little Six Casino was away on business.
Her soon-to-be stepson Zach was reportedly also not at the home on Saturday night, returning home on Sunday to discover the crime scene.
And just hours after the shooting he spoke to a local activist group, slamming police over the death.
‘Basically my mum’s dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don’t know,’ Zach Damond said.
‘I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I’m so done with all this violence. It’s so much bulls**t. America sucks.
‘She was a very passionate woman, she thought something bad was happening – and next thing you know they take my best friend’s life.’
In a statement, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said an investigation was in its early stages, but that police did not have their body cameras on during the incident.
Less than a week earlier it was revealed that officers across the city were using body cameras at what appeared to be a low amounts, despite their high-profile roll out.
Under Minneapolis Police Department policy, officers ‘should manually activate their PVR (portable video recorder) to Record Mode when reasonably safe and practical’ in situations including ‘suspicious person stops’ and ‘crimes in progress’.
Friends of the woman told the Star Tribune that she had often spoken out against gun violence and told ‘how much better’ things were in Australia.
Ms Ruszczyk was a ‘corporate speaker, trainer and coach’ who worked to spiritually help others, according to her website and social media accounts.
Originally trained as a vet at the University of Sydney, she was ‘supporting individuals and organizations to discover the power and potential within their own brains and hearts.’
Hundreds gathered outside the Damond home in the hours after her death to hold a vigil for Ms Ruszczyk, with her neighbours remembering a ‘beautiful light’.
‘This woman was a beautiful light, she was a healer, she was loved, she should be alive – she should still be here,’ one friend said.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she was disturbed by the shooting and called on BCA to release information about Ms Ruszczyk’s death as quickly as possible.
‘As mayor of our city, a wife, and a grandmother, I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by what occurred last night,’ Mayor Hodges said, the Star Tribune reports.
‘There are still many questions about what took place, and while the investigation is still in its early stages, I am asking the BCA to release as much information, as quickly as they are able to.
‘My thoughts are now with everyone affected by this tragic incident, especially the deceased woman and her family.’