April 30, 2019 10:45 PM
Those who knew Justine Ruszczyk Damond were still processing their emotions in the wake of Tuesday's verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor.
Damond had called 911 to report a possible crime occurring outside her South Minneapolis home in July 2017 when she was fatally shot by Noor while approaching the vehicle Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity were inside.
Noor, who had pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense, was found guilty of murder in the third degree and manslaughter in the second degree. However, he was found not guilty of murder in the second degree. Sentencing is scheduled for June 7.
Damond, 40, was a life coach who was engaged to be married a month after the shooting. Michelle Schwartz, a speech language pathologist, took over Damond's old office in the fall of 2016.
"Obviously, it was tragic," she said of Damond's death. "You have to ask yourself why. It would be tragic no matter who it was. But knowing who she was and what she came here to do in this life, I had to ask myself what could possibly come of this.
"How do you find a silver lining?"
For Schwartz, the verdict represents closure. But she said her heart aches for everyone involved in the situation.
"I want there to be justice," she said. "But my heart hurts for officer Noor too. This is just a great tragedy. No one should ever have to go through this. I can't imagine living with that for the rest of my life, being him.
"And I can't imagine her family having to live with what happened either."
Schwartz, who keeps a bunny that once belonged to Justine in her office, said she feels a duty to carry on Justine's legacy.
"I guess I feel a bigger responsibility to continue her purpose in my own way," she said.
Updated: April 30, 2019 10:45 PM
Created: April 30, 2019 09:32 PM
Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company