On the shores of a picturesque Minneapolis lake, family and friends of Justine Ruszczyk shared hugs and listened to music at a public memorial to remember the Australian woman fatally shot by police last month.
Many of those gathering at Lake Harriet Park in southwest Minneapolis for the sunset memorial wore blue, Ruszczyk’s favorite color.
The sound of two didgeridoos being played next to the Australian flag highlighted Ruszczyk’s heritage. Plans called for luminarias and a silent walk around the lake at the end of the memorial.
Ruszczyk’s fiance, Don Damond, said the two were planning to marry next week.
“Some would call it a cruel irony, but it’s just an irony that we would have been on the airplane now, heading for a Hawaiian destination,” he said. “It’s rather surreal, but the irony isn’t lost on any of us.”
Ruszczyk, 40, called 911 late July 15 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley near her home. Less than 30 minutes later, she was dead from a gunshot wound to the abdomen, having been shot by one of the two police officers who responded to the call.
Officer Matthew Harrity told investigators that he drove to the scene and was startled by a “loud sound” near the squad car, according to Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Immediately afterward, Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side window, and Harrity’s partner, Mohamed Noor, shot Ruszczyk through the window, Harrity said.
A search warrant from Hennepin County District Court obtained by Minneapolis Public Radio suggests that startling sound may have been Ruszczyk slapping the patrol car.
Noor declined to be interviewed by investigators, and his attorney did not clarify when if ever he would give an interview. Investigators cannot compel him to give an interview.
Both Harrity and Noor are on administrative leave amid the investigation into the shooting.
“Justine, my daughter, was killed by a bullet fired by an agent of the state,” John Ruszczyk said at the memorial. “I don’t understand. I should have been on a plane to her wedding (rather than) flying to her funeral.
“This is our first visit to Minneapolis,” he said. “We should be walking arm in arm down the street.”
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SOURCE: CNN, Melissa Gray