New audio has emerged of the moments around the fatal US police shooting of Australian spiritual healer and meditation coach Justine Damond in a Minneapolis alley.
The officers are heard communicating with their dispatcher over the police radio,including calling for backup and their attempts to perform CPR on Sydney-raised Damond.
“Shots fired … we have one down,” one of the officers says.
Damond’s death in the alley outside her Minneapolis home just before midnight on Saturday has devastated and outraged family, friends and left the Minneapolis community upset about the latest police shooting in their city.
Her partner, Don Damond, said he was being kept in the dark about the incident.
“Sadly, her family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived,” Don Damond told reporters outside their home in suburban Fulton on Monday local time.
“We have lost the dearest of people and we are desperate for information.”
He said Damond’s death was a loss to everyone who knew her.
“Our hearts are broken and we are utterly devastated by the loss of Justine,” he said. “It is difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life.”
The police audio was posted on the Minnesota Police Clips website.
Damond, 40, called police after hearing a possible sexual assault taking place in an alley behind her Minneapolis home in what has been described as the safe, middle-class neighbourhood of Fulton.
The police audio begins with the description of a “female screaming behind the building”, believed to be what Damond told the dispatcher in her initial 911 call.
Damond, dressed in her pyjamas, reportedly approached the driver’s side window of the police car when it arrived in the alley and an officer shot across his partner at Damond more than once from the passenger seat.
Nancy Coune, the office administrator at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Centre, where Damond taught a meditation class every Tuesday, said the centre’s members were still reeling from the news.
“We’ve come together. We’re teetering back and forth between tragic heart sick to outrage, to trying to understand it, to really knowing that there is a greater purpose and that at some point we will come to terms with this … people are struggling here,” she said.
Coune said that Damond had arrived at the centre about three years ago and asked to rent a space. A veterinarian surgeon by training, she was interested in the intersection of spirituality and neuroscience. She would teach in the centre’s small sanctuary while sitting on the floor, wearing bright sun dresses or jeans with knee-high boots.
One of her students, Jay Peterson, 50, said that Damond had been through her fair share of hardship, and had lost her mother when she was young. Peterson said that Damond told him she had struggled with depression, but got into yoga and meditation and turned her life around. That experience that helped propel her to become an instructor.
“She really got enthusiastic about helping people have their own breakthroughs, helping people wake up,” Peterson said.
When asked about Damond’s personality, several people at the centre responded with the same question. “Have you heard about the ducks?”
On 30 June, three weeks before she died, Damond was walking to her mediation class when she saw a group of ducks trapped in storm drain near a lake. She happen to be wearing one of her dresses that day and told Coune in a text message.
“Guess what I just rescued 8 ducklings… The mother duke was distraught and I climbed and pulled them all in my skirt…. There was this moment when I think they realized I was there to help and they just started jumping to my lap, I was in bliss!”
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, described as a fact-finder independent of Minneapolis police, is investigating the shooting and confirmed Damond was not carrying a weapon.
Damond may have been holding a mobile phone, which was reportedly found near her body.
“BCA crime scene personnel located no weapons at the scene,” BCA said in a statement on Monday. “The BCA continues to examine evidence to determine the facts that led to the shooting incident.”
The Hennepin county Medical Examiner’s Office has conducted an autopsy on Damond but the results have not been released.
Formerly Justine Ruszczyk, Damond took her fiance’s surname ahead of next month’s planned wedding.
The BCA confirmed the officer and his partner’s body cameras were not turned on and their police car dashboard camera did not capture the incident. The Minneapolis mayor, Betsy Hodges, told reporters she has “a lot of questions why the body cameras were not on”.
Lt Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation representing officers, said “the federation has decided to reserve all comment until case completion in the matter”.
Teresa Nelson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said the officers violated police policy by not turning on their body cameras.
“This violation of policy thwarted the public’s right to know what happened to Ms Damond and why the police killed her,” Nelson said.
“The two officers broke the policy not only when they didn’t activate the body cameras before the incident, but also when they failed to do so after the use of force.”
The Washington Post reported Damond is one of at least 524 people fatally shot by police in the US this year and and the fifth in Minnesota.
The Minneapolis-St Paul area is still reeling from the acquittal last month of apolice officer who shot dead a man, Philando Castile, during a traffic stop while Castile’s girlfriend livestreamed the horrifying incident.
Violent protests also flared after two officers fatally shot 24-year-old Jamar Clark in 2015 and were not charged.