Vigil, Rally for Justice Held for Victim of SW Minneapolis Officer-Involved Shooting

July 17, 2017 05:34 AM

A vigil organized by the Women's March Minnesota in honor of Saturday's officer-involved shooting victim called for police reform, with attendees urging a greater emphasis on crisis management training than use-of-force. 

Bethany Bradley organized the event, called "Justine should be alive today."

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The vigil for Justine Damond drew more than 300 people to the area near where the shooting took place in the Fulton Neighborhood of southwest Minneapolis. 

Damond was 40 and an Australia native. She lived with her fiance on Washburn Avenue. Damond was set to get married next month. Her stepson, Zach Damond, was emotional before the memorial.

RELATED: BCA Says Officer-Involved Shooting in Minneapolis Started With Report of Possible Assault

"My mom is dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," he said.

Damond was a well-known life coach and spiritual healer in the area. 

"This killing shows us that no one is immune," one speaker said at the vigil.

"Policing, the concept, is an unchecked variable in this nation," said another vigil attendee. "What we need to do is be together, and what they've spent centuries doing is keeping us apart."  

Herman Milligan is a former member with the Civil Rights Commission. 

"There are questions like, 'Why weren't their body cameras on? Why wasn't the shooting captured on squad cameras? What really happened?'" Milligan said. "We know the outcome, unfortunately."

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting, which occurred in an alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues south on the 5100 block. 

RELATED: Hodges: 'I am Heartsick and Deeply Disturbed' by Officer-Involved Shooting

A release from the BCA Sunday morning said two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call regarding a possible assault just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

The release said the officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. The BCA didn't say which officer shot Damond or how many shots were fired. The agency didn't release the officers' names. The police department confirmed both are suspended with pay, with is standard policy.

At a press conference Sunday evening, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she was devastated by the shooting and urged the BCA to release as much information as possible in as quickly a manner as it is able without jeopardizing the investigation. 

Digital Extra: Mayor Betsy Hodges' Full Press Conference on Saturday's Officer-Involved Shooting

"My understanding, from the BCA's initial statement, is that the officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time of the incident and the squad camera did not capture the incident," Hodges said in a statement earlier Sunday. "I intend to learn more."

No further information regarding the shooting's circumstances was available Sunday.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy and officially release the victim's identity. 

Stay tuned to KSTP.com for more information on this developing story.

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Beth McDonough

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