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Family of Australian Woman Killed by US Police Concerned About Investigation


John Ruszczyk, the father of Justine Damond, speaks as he stands next to his son Jason Ruszczyk and Jason's wife Katarina, during a media conference in Sydney, Dec. 21, 2017.

The father of an Australian woman killed by a police officer in the northern U.S. state of Minnesota says his family is concerned that investigators have not fulfilled their promise to give prosecutors all the necessary information to determine whether the officer involved should be charged with a crime.

Justine Damond was shot in an alley behind her Minneapolis home in July. She had called police to report a possible sexual assault, and as she approached a police car, officer Mohamed Noor fired his gun.

FILE - Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, Australia, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, July 17, 2017.
FILE - Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, Australia, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, July 17, 2017.

Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, told reporters Thursday in Sydney the family has concerns “about the possibility that the initial investigation was not done properly and with the greatest integrity or sense of completeness.”

Prosecutor frustrated

Last week, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was caught on camera at a holiday party saying investigators from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in the case “haven’t done their job” and that he did not have enough evidence to bring charges against Noor. He also said the officer has refused to answer questions.

Freeman apologized Monday for the comments, saying he should not have been discussing the case publicly. He pledged to give an update next week on the status of the decision on whether to file charges.

“He has since apologized for where, when and how he made those comments,” Ruszczyk said Thursday. “But he does not say that his comments about the BCA investigation itself were unfounded, inaccurate or in any way untrue. What are we to think?”

Ruszczyk further urged the prosecutor’s office to “pursue a rigorous investigation” of his daughter’s death and to fill in gaps in the BCA’s work “honestly and fairly, but completely.”

Protests

The shooting sparked widespread protests and led to the resignation of the Minneapolis police chief.

Officials say the officers’ body cameras were not turned on, a violation of Minneapolis Police Department rules. The shooting was also not captured by the patrol car’s dashboard camera.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has defended the BCA, saying the agency is asked to investigate some of the most complex cases.

“I have the utmost confidence in their professionalism, integrity, and thoroughness. Impugning the quality of their investigations is destructive, and detrimental in our efforts to seek and obtain justice,” Dayton said in a statement.

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