A US politician has called for a “a comprehensive response” to the police shooting of Australian woman Justine Damond in the US city of Minneapolis.
Republican Keith Ellison, who represents Minneapolis in the US Congress said in a statement Wednesday morning (AEST) that Ms Damond’s death was the latest in a string of incidents where unarmed people were fatally shot by police officers.
“We need to confront the reality of so many unarmed people killed by the same officers who swear an oath to protect us,” he said.
“Justine’s death shows no one should assume ‘officer-involved shootings’ only happen in a certain part of town or to certain kinds of people. This is a systemic problem which calls for a broad, comprehensive response.”
Ellison said the tragic shooting, and others like it, “will persist as long as our society resists holding our law enforcement accountable”.
Over the weekend, our community was shaken by yet another unarmed person killed by a Minneapolis police officer. Justine…
The damning statement came shortly before Ms Damond’s Australian family and friends held a dawn vigil at Sydney’s Freshwater Beach and as an angry Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australians want answers.
“It is inexplicable. Our hearts go out to her family,” Mr Turnbull told the Nine Network on Wednesday.
“How can a woman out in the street in her pyjamas seeking assistance from the police be shot like that? It is a shocking killing.”
Ms Damond was shot in the stomach by police officer Mohamed Noor in an alley outside her Minneapolis home on the weekend.
Ms Damond, 40, was fatally shot in the stomach by Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor on Saturday. Her death has since been ruled a homicide.
Dozens of pink flowers were cast into the water at Freshwater Beach on Wednesday morning during a silent vigil for Ms Damond.
Holding a bouquet of pink flowers and flanked by relatives, Ms Damond’s father John Ruszczyk was clearly emotional as he walked to the shoreline.
His daughter, who was remembered as a kind, funny and loving woman, was raised on the Northern Beaches and attended nearby Manly High School.
Family, friends and community members stood in silence for about half an hour holding single candles and clutching flowers in pink, her favourite colour, as the sun rose over the water.
Mr Ruszczyk, fought back tears on Tuesday afternoon as he revealed his family’s pain and pleaded with authorities for answers.
“We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare but we awoke to the ugly truth and it hurt even more,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“Justine was a beacon to all of us. We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death.”
“Justine, our daughter, was so special to us and to so many others.”
Ms Damond called 911 about 11.30pm on Saturday after hearing the screams of what she thought was a woman being sexually assaulted in the alley outside her home.
Officer Noor, who had two years’ experience as a policeman, and his partner, Matthew Harrity, with just a year on the job, received the call and pulled into the alley.
Officer Noor was in the passenger’s seat and from the darkness Ms Damond, dressed in pyjamas and believed to be carrying a mobile phone that may have been mistaken for a gun, approached Officer Harrity’s driver’s side window.
Officer Noor fired his gun over his partner through the car door and the bullet struck Ms Damond in the stomach.
Her fiance, Don Damond, and family say they have been given limited details about why she was fatally shot.
Chilling audio emerged Tuesday of the moments a US police officer shotMs Damond.
In audio, posted to the Minnesota Police Clips website, Officer Noor, and his unnamed partner are heard communicating with their dispatcher over the police radio, including calling for back-up and their attempts to perform CPR on Ms Damond.
“Shots fired … we have one down,” one of the officers says in the clip.
Hear the audio below:
Minnesota’s police chief Janeé Harteau said she wanted an explanation for the shooting and called for a speedy investigation into the incident by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Officer Noor was in only his second year as a police officer and was the subject of two other inquiries while on duty.
Officer Noor has engaged lawyer Thomas Plunkett who said in a statement that his client “takes these events very seriously”.
Officer Noor offered his condolences to Ms Damond’s family via a statement from his lawyer.
– With AAP