Friends and neighbors joined together for an emotional vigil Sunday evening remembering 40-year-old Justine Damond, who less than 24 hours earlier was shot dead by police.
There were tears and anger at a vigil held near her home at West 51st Street and Washburn Avenue South Sunday evening, as a shocked community gathered to commemorate a beloved neighbor who was a meditation teacher at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community.
Emotional scenes at the vigil pic.twitter.com/3naK1NjMeZ
— Adam Uren (@AdamUren) July 16, 2017
Damond was shot and killed around 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Minneapolis police have released limited details of the incident, but Damond’s fiance’s son said she herself had called police to report an assault, only to be fatally shot when officers arrived.
Damond was an Australian native who was engaged to be married to a Minneapolis man this August.
“She was a healer, she was loved, and she should be alive, she should still be here,” the crowd of more than 100 heard as the vigil got underway Sunday.
Neighbors linked hands, held moments of silence and shed tears over the loss of a beloved friend and neighbor.
Sarah Kuhnen, a neighbor of Damond’s, said: “There were three of our children just coming home when this shooting when this shooting happened. Yes, we need answers, yes, we need things to be uncovered, but tonight I’m here to honor her, to honor her husband-to-be, to honor her stepson.”
Among the speakers were members of the Minneapolis NAACP, who argued that the death of Damond – a white woman – shows nobody is safe from police violence.
Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., second Vice President Leslie Redmond said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere.”
She also expressed skepticism that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension – which is investigating the shooting – will do justice with the incident, calling instead for a federal investigation.
The Lake Harriet Spiritual Community confirmed Damond’s death Sunday afternoon, and described her as “one of the most loving people you would ever meet.” Several of those who spoke Sunday were some of her students at the center.
Here’s video of a talk she gave at the center just a couple weeks ago.
Lack of detail from police
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said officers’ body cameras were turned off at the time and cameras in the squad car did not capture the incident. Investigators are working to determine whether video of the incident exists elsewhere.
Minneapolis police confirmed that the two officers involved are on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, who represented that neighborhood as a city council member for eight years, said in a statement she’s “heartsick and disturbed” by the shooting.
She promised to relay information about what led up to the shooting – details of which have been scarce so far – as soon as she could get them from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. At a news conference Sunday evening, she called on the bureau to share info as soon as possible, the Star Tribune reports.
And in her initial statement, she addressed one of the biggest questions people have had so far: Why weren’t the officers’ body cameras on?
“I intend to learn more,” Hodges said.
Speaking alongside Hodges at a press conference at City Hall, assistant Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo confirmed that the officer body cam program is fully rolled out in Minneapolis (as reported last fall), but declined to say more about why there is no footage of the shooting, the Star Tribune notes.