Minneapolis mayor seeks answers in fatal police shooting of bride-to-be

The shooting victim was Justine Maia Ruszczyk, 40, a bride-to-be.

ByABC News
July 18, 2017, 7:32 AM

— -- The reason why police did not have their body cameras turned on when they shot and killed an Australian woman over the weekend is a "key question" for investigators, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges told "Good Morning America" today.

"You know, I fought hard to make sure that we have body cameras. They’re a very powerful tool, they're not an infallible tool, but they're an important tool in 21st century policing and I don’t know why they weren’t turned on," Hodges told "GMA." "I don’t know what happened. That's one of the key questions that we have as the investigations move forward."

Just before 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, two Minneapolis police officers "responded to a 911 call of a possible assault," and "at one point an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman," according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the lead investigating agency.

The victim was Justine Maia Ruszczyk, 40, the county medical examiner's office confirmed Monday night. She died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the medical examiner said.

The officers' body cameras were not turned on at the time of the shooting and the squad camera didn't capture what happened, the BCA said, adding that "investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists."

"When the investigation is complete, the BCA will turn its findings over to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for review," the bureau said.

The two officers involved are on paid administrative leave, the Minneapolis Police Department said.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune said the victim was Australian bride-to-be and went by the name Justine Damond, using the last name of her fiancé, Don Damond.

Ruszczyk's death is being ruled a homicide.

The shooting was "tragic and awful and disturbing," according to Hodges.

"I have the same questions everybody has," she added. "What happened?"

Hodges also addressed the issue of rebuilding trust between police and the community following the shooting and said that body cameras, at least in theory, would be an important part of that process.

"It’s been a question this whole country has been trying to answer," Hodges said. "In Minneapolis, [we] have been working very hard to put the foundations in place for 21st century policing. Body cameras are one element of that."

Kelly McCarthy contributed to this report.