Family of Justine Damond, Australian woman killed by Minneapolis police, calls for thorough investigation after prosecutor's remarks
John Ruszczyk, the father of Australian woman Justine Damond killed in a police shooting in the US, is accompanied by his wife Maryan Heffernan as he speaks at a press conference on December 21, 2017 in Sydney.William West / AFP - Getty Images
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The father of a Australian woman who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer this summer said her family is concerned by recent comments by the district attorney that appeared to cast doubt on the investigation into her death.
"What are we to think? We are deeply concerned about the possibility that the initial investigation was not done properly," John Ruszczyk, the father of Justine Damond, said at a news conference in Australia Thursday morning local time.
Officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot 40-year-old Damond on July 15 after she called police to report a possible sexual assault near her house.
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Damond had already taken the last name of her fiancé, whom she was set to marry the following month.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman candidly told activists earlier this month that prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to charge Noor, and said investigators who do not work for his office "haven't done their job."
Freeman later apologized to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for the remarks and said he was wrong to discuss the agency’s work on the case in that setting.
Noor's partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, told investigators he was "startled by a loud sound" just before Damond approached the driver's side window of the police SUV. Harrity said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat, hitting Damond.
"We implore Mr. Freeman and the prosecutor’s office to continue to pursue a rigorous investigation and examination of evidence of the events leading to Justine's death," John Ruszczyk said. "We expect them to fill in any gaps in the BCA’s work honestly and fairly, but completely."
Freeman said in a video statement on Monday that he was not aware his comments about the case were being recorded. He said that "no one cares more about justice in this matter than I do."
Freeman said his office will share more news about the status of its charging decision in the case next week.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement Wednesday that "The BCA is committed to conducting a fair, impartial, and thorough investigation as we gather the facts and evidence in this case,” and that it presented its case file to the Hennepin County Attorney on Sept. 12.
"We have consulted with that office from the very beginning of this investigation and will continue to work with them as needed to provide any additional information that they deem appropriate as they review the case," the bureau said.
John Ruszczyk said that while some activist groups may have their own agenda, no one can speak for Justine but her family in Australia or the man she was to be married to, Don Damond of Minneapolis.