Woman shot by police in Minn. has family & friends in WNY mourning her death

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB)- Western New Yorkers are mourning the loss of a woman shot and killed Saturday night by police in Minnesota.

Justine Damond was an Australian woman living in Minneapolis. Her fiancé says she called police to report a possible sexual assault happening near their home.

According to CBS News, when officers arrived, Damond approached the police vehicle in her pajamas and Officer Mohammad Noor shot her through the driver’s side window. He was sitting on the passenger’s side.

Officials are now investigating why both officers’ body cameras were off. It is still unclear why Officer Noor shot Damond. He offered his condolences to her family through his lawyer on Monday.

The Minneapolis Police Department has requested an external, independent investigation be conducted.

Damond’s family and friends want answers.

“We’re just devastated by the whole thing,” said Dennis Sterlace, from Lackawanna. “We want to know what happened, what happened. How could this happen?”

Sterlace told News 4 he went to high school in Lackawanna with Damond’s father. They stayed close friends after the family moved to Australia. Damond’s mother was Australian.

Sterlace said Damond visited many times and described her as kind and polite.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Sterlace. “We’re not the type of people who are going to jump all over the police but if this officer felt he was in any way threatened by Justine, I can’t believe he’s telling the truth. It must’ve been an accident.”

Damond studied to be a veterinarian but later became a yoga instructor and life coach. She was set to marry Don Damond next month, she already took his last name.

“I just can’t believe she’s gone so young, and so tragically,” said Sterlace.

Sterlace talked to her father after it happened and said her family is just heartbroken.

“We’re too far away, we can’t go over and tell him we love him and how much we miss her,” said Sterlace. “She’s going to be sorely missed.”

 

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