News World Justine Damond’s fiance shares his grief after guilty verdict

Justine Damond’s fiance shares his grief after guilty verdict

Justine Damond
Ms Damond was unarmed and in her pyjamas when she was killed. Photo: AAP
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The grief-stricken fiance of Justine Ruszczyk Damond has spoken of his ongoing distress, after a former police officer was convicted over the Australian woman’s death.

“Ironically the Minneapolis Police Department emblem on the squad door reads ‘To protect with courage and to serve with compassion’,” Ms Damond’s American fiance, Don Damond, said after the verdict on Wednesday morning (Australian time).

“Where were these values that night?

“Justine tried to help.”

jury of 10 men and two women took less a day to find former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of 40-year-old Ms Damond.

She was shot dead when she approached Noor’s police vehicle in an alley behind her Minneapolis home late on the night of July 15, 2017.

Noor, 33, was cleared of a third charge of second-degree murder.

The presumptive sentences vary from four years for the manslaughter charge to 12-and-a-half years for third-degree murder.

Noor was taken into custody immediately after the verdicts were read.

justine damond murder
Mohamed Noor arrives at court for Wednesday’s verdict. Photo: AAP

Ms Damond had called 911 after hearing a woman’s screams and feared a sexual assault was taking place.

The former Sydney woman was wearing a pink T-shirt with koalas on it and carrying a glitter-cased gold iPhone when she was shot by Noor as she approached his police car. The bullet struck her in the stomach, severed a major artery and she died soon after in the alley.

Noor’s defence claimed he and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, feared an ambush as their squad car approached the alley near Ms Damond’s home.

Prosecutors argued that Noor’s actions were reckless and illegal, and questioned his decision to shoot the unarmed woman to neutralise the perceived threat.

Outside the Minneapolis courtroom, Ms Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, described the “painful journey” for her family and loved ones since her death.

“We are satisfied with the outcome,” he said.

“The jury’s decision reflected the community’s commitment to three important pillars of a civil society: the rule of law, the respect for the sanctity of life, and the obligation of the police force to serve and protect.

“We believe this guilty verdict strengthen those pillars. We hope this will be a catalyst for further change.”

Mr Ruszczyk, who lives in Sydney but had attended the trial, noted the guilty verdict came despite the “active resistance” of several police officers, including the head of the union.

During the trial, the jury watched how police on the scene after Ms Damond’s shooting turned their body cameras on and off.

They also heard how the squad car was washed before testing was completed and there was criticism over how long Ms Damond’s body was left in the alley.

Noor, who had been an officer for less than two years, also refused to talk to investigators.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he wanted “to extend my sincere apologies” to Ms Damond’s family and friends.

“This was a sad and tragic incident that has affected family, friends, neighbours, the City of Minneapolis and people around the world, most significantly her home country of Australia,” he said.

Ms Damond was murdered weeks before her wedding in Hawaii.

“This case is about Justine, and Justine lived to teach us about love,” Mr Damond said.

“She lived to teach us about our own human potential.

“She taught us to live joyfully.

“She taught us to laugh and she demonstrated what it mean to live from the heart.”

The Damond family has also filed a $US50 million ($A71 million) civil lawsuit against Noor, Officer Harrity, the city of Minneapolis and current and former police chiefs.

-with AAP