Justine Damond's father John Ruszczyk says his family is ‘deeply concerned’ over the investigation into his daughter’s death. Picture: Nathan Edwards John Ruszczyk deeply concerned over investigation into daughter Justine Damond's death
Justine Damond's father John Ruszczyk says his family is ‘deeply concerned’ over the investigation into his daughter’s death. Picture: Nathan Edwards John Ruszczyk deeply concerned over investigation into daughter Justine Damond's death

The promise the cops didn’t keep

THE family of Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk who was shot by police in a Minnesota street is "deeply concerned" an investigation into her death was not done properly.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension commenced its investigation into his daughter's death, John Ruszczyk questioned the integrity of the investigation into his daughter's death.

Mr Ruszczyk's public statement was prompted by comments from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman who last week suggested the BCA had failed in its probe, complaining officers "hadn't done their job".

"We are deeply concerned that the initial investigation was not done properly and with the greatest of integrity and sense of completeness," Mr Ruszczyk said at the Sydney press conference on Thursday.

Mr Ruszczyk said he had earlier been assured that "all necessary information to make a reasoned decision on whether or not to charge Justine's shooter" would be provided to the County Attorney by the BCA.

Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot by a Minneapolis police officer. Picture: Stephen Govel
Australian woman Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot by a Minneapolis police officer. Picture: Stephen Govel

"We were grateful for that promise, so that we could better understand how a tragic event could occur and how a tragic event could occur and so that our family could do something, anything, to prevent others from experiencing our pain in the future," he said.

"Now, I hear that the County Attorney says the investigation has not been done to the prosecutor's satisfaction or even to the expected levels of accuracy and thoroughness.

"He has since apologised for where, when and how he made those comments, but he does not say his comments about the BA investigation itself were unfounded, inaccurate or in any way untrue."

Mr Ruszczyk said the comments his family and others close to Justine, including he fiance, Don Damond, with great concern.

"What are we to think? We are deeply concerned that the initial investigation was not done properly and with the greatest of integrity and sense of completeness," he said.

"We are apprehensive that perhaps the BCA has not fulfilled its promise ... at the leats, Mr Freeman's comments cast doubt on the description of how Justine's death occurred as it was initially put out by the BCA."

According to authorities, rookie police officer Mohammed Noor shot Damond in the alley behind her home in July after she had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. As she approached the squad car, Noor fired from the passenger seat, across his partner and through the driver's window.

 

At a holiday party last week, Freeman expressed frustration about the investigation into the case, saying he didn't have enough evidence yet to charge the officer.

He said it wasn't his fault and investigators "haven't done their job." He also suggested Noor's refusal to speak to investigators had put prosecutors in a difficult position.

"I have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, (that) the moment he shot the gun, he feared for his life. And he used force because he thought he was gonna be killed," Freeman said last week. "But I can't. He won't answer my questions because he doesn't have to, OK?" While he apologised in his statement Monday for speaking publicly about the case, Freeman did not say whether he stood by the comment that investigators were not doing their jobs or whether it was inaccurate.

Freeman had said previously that he wanted to have a charging decision by the end of the year. He said Monday that he'll share information about the status of that decision next week.

Mr Ruszczyk made a call that "ignorance not prevail" in the case, and implored Mr Freeman and other investigating authorities to continue to rigorously review the evidence that led to Justine's death.

"We expect them to work honestly and fairly, but completely," he said.

"We will wait patiently while this occurs but insist that this investigation is done and done right."

- With AP


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