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Mayor Hodges 'deeply disturbed' by officer-involved shooting of woman in Minneapolis

16 July 2017 11:08 PM
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Mayor Hodges 'deeply disturbed' by officer-involved shooting of woman in Minneapolis

Mayor "heartsick" about incident, which began when woman called 911 about a possible assault in alley behind her home.

A 40-year-old woman who family members said called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley Saturday night was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer, according to authorities and the woman's soon-to-be stepson.

The shooting happened at the south end of the alley on W. 51st Street between Washburn and Xerxes avenues S. in the city's Fulton neighborhood. The woman, an Australian native, and her fiancé lived in the 5000 block of Washburn. They had planned to marry in August, a family friend said.

Authorities have not released the woman's name. Family members and friends said they didn't want to identify her because her family in Australia hadn't been told yet.

"Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S. just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday," the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a news release. "At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.

"The BCA's investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete ... The officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists."

Minneapolis police confirmed that the two officers involved are on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The shooting was called "tragic" by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, who held a news conference about it at City Hall late Sunday afternoon, appearing with assistant Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo and Linea Palmisano, who represents the 13th ward on the City Council.

"I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened last night," Hodges said.

"I know the neighborhood well," said Hodges, who represented the area for eight years as a City Council member.

"We have few facts at this point," Hodges said. "I want to know more. I call on the BCA to share as much information with all of us as quickly as they can. I have questions about why the body cams weren't on," she said.

Arradondo confirmed that the officer body cam program is fully rolled out in Minneapolis, but declined to say more about why there is no footage of the shooting.

Zack Damond, 22, whose father, Don, 50, was to be married to the woman in August, arrived at the scene with a close family friend about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

"Basically my mom's dead because a police officer shot her for reasons I don't know," he said. "I demand answers. If anybody can help, just call police and demand answers. I'm so done with all this violence."

Damond said the victim called police after she "heard a sound in the alley."

He left the scene at noon Sunday to go to the airport to pick up his father who had been on a business trip out of town.

From her home midblock, the woman would have had to walk a little more than 100 yards to get to the end of the alley. There are three lights mounted on telephone poles along that route plus nine motion detector lights on garages, and neighbors said the alley is well-lit at night.

A woman named Hannah, who came to the scene with Damond and is a close family friend, said the victim was a "spiritual healer." Hannah, 21, did not want her last name used for safety reasons.

"I don't know what she was doing out," Hannah said. "She's such a kind woman. She took me in when I was in a tough situation and helped me with whatever I needed.

"They were just so in love," Hannah said of the woman and her fiancé. "I'm just kind of in disbelief."

A vigil organized in part by community activist Mel Reeves drew more than 200 people to the neighborhood Sunday evening.

The woman's website says she "originally trained as a veterinarian" and "has also studied and practiced yoga and meditation for over 17 years, is a qualified yoga instructor, a personal health and life coach and meditation teacher, embracing and teaching the neuro-scientific benefits of meditation."

Earlier Sunday, someone drew colorful chalk hearts on the driveway pad where the woman was shot, adding names of others, including Jamar Clark and Philando Castile, who were fatally shot by police. A few hours later, Hannah, an artist, added "Live in love not fear" to the drawings.

Hannah said there's no way the woman would have had a gun. The woman often talked about how much better it was in Australia, where people aren't allowed to have guns, she said.

In a statement, City Council member Palmisano thanked residents for their patience as they await details about exactly what happened and why.


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