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Community conversation held where Minneapolis residents shared the impact of Justine Ruszczyk Damond's death

May 07, 2019 10:52 PM

The Lake Harriet Spiritual Center was a special place to Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

She was a meditation and life coach at the southwest Minneapolis facility. The circumstances of her traumatic death in July 2017 inspired city and police leaders to hold a community conversation there Tuesday evening.

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City Council member Linea Palmisano, who represents the 13th ward, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey stood on the same stage where Damond used to, and listened to resident after resident reveal the affect her homicide, the investigation, trial, guilty verdict and $20 million settlement had on their lives. 

RELATED: City of Minneapolis settles lawsuit with family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond

"I have lost faith in Minneapolis officers," replied one man who didn't want to be identified.

Palmisano told the crowd, "part of the event is to acknowledge this has been and will continue to be a very difficult time for the community." 

Members of Justice for Justine addressed the verdict. 

"Minneapolis police were on trial too, not just Officer Mohamed Noor and the outcome wasn't good," said Mindy Barry.

During the trial in which Noor was convicted of murder and manslaughter, testimony and evidence exposed missteps in the investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Activist Mel Reeves said outside the gathering that is why an independent unit, out of the department, needs to investigate officer-involved shootings. 

"They were incompetent in this case and likely incompetent in other cases like Jamar Clark and others," said Reeves.

Reeves and Barry also called for previous officer-involved shooting deaths to be re-opened and re-examined.

Chief Arradondo was soft-spoken.

"I can try to be of help in steering the force forward and to value [the] sanctity of life. It's important, and Justine didn't have that," Arrandondo said.

RELATED: Minneapolis mayor addresses verdict in Noor case

He went on to announce additional technology is already in the works. He purchased new software which turns officer's cameras into smart sensors and anytime a squad door is opened or light bar activated, body-worn or dash cameras automatically start recording. Chief Arradondo said the new technology will be phased in.

Also, city leaders shared the results of the latest audit of officer's body-worn cameras, and  it showed that compliance increased from 55 percent two years ago, about the time when Damond was killed, to 94 percent now. 

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Beth McDonough

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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