Australian woman, Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Picture: Stephen Govel
Australian woman, Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Picture: Stephen Govel

Fiance’s haunting, tragic advice to Justine Damond

FOR the first time it can be revealed Justine Damond Ruszczyk - tragically shot dead by a police officer in Minneapolis - spent the morning of her death excitedly admiring her bridesmaids' dresses after they were delivered to her home.

A catastrophic alignment of events unfolded the day of Justine's death on July 15 starting with her fiance Don being out of town on business.

Don Damond and Justine Damond Ruszczyk on holiday in Hawaii. Picture: Supplied
Don Damond and Justine Damond Ruszczyk on holiday in Hawaii. Picture: Supplied

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In a frank and extensive interview since his fiance's death, Mr Damond revealed the storm of circumstances that led his partner to be shot at point-blank range.

She had been shot by junior officer Mohamed Noor after calling 911 twice to report a suspected sexual assault.

"There's a number of things that had to line up for this to happen in the way that it did," Mr Damond told ABC's Australian Story, to air tonight.

"I was away. I was out of town on a business trip, on a Saturday."

Ms Ruszczyk, 40, had spent the morning excitedly trying on wedding dresses ahead of the couple's wedding in Hawaii in August.

Justine Damond Ruszczyk and her fiance Don Damond during the Minneapolis winter Picture: Supplied
Justine Damond Ruszczyk and her fiance Don Damond during the Minneapolis winter Picture: Supplied

But home alone on Saturday night she became spooked by noises coming from behind the couple's home.

When she called Mr Damond to tell him she believed the noises related to a sexual assault, he told her to hang up and phone police.

It's an instruction that's haunted him since, as it set into play the third and final variable - the 911 calls which alerted Officer Noor and Officer Matthew Harrity's patrol car to the disturbance.

According to Officer Harrity, who was driving the patrol car, as they pulled up to the property the men were startled when a woman "slapped" the squad car.

Justine Damond Ruszczyk and her fiance Don Damond lived together for two years before her death. Picture: Supplied
Justine Damond Ruszczyk and her fiance Don Damond lived together for two years before her death. Picture: Supplied

Immediately afterwards, Ms Damond Ruszczyk approached the driver's side window in her pyjamas and Office Noor shot her in the stomach.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.

"That night I told Justine to call 911, I had this conception that when she said, 'the police are here,' I felt like all is well, like the knights in shining armour have arrived," he said.

"I'll never feel that way again."

Justine Damond's father John Ruszczyk at a memorial in Minneapolis. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Justine Damond's father John Ruszczyk at a memorial in Minneapolis. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Veterinarian and life coach, Ms Damond Ruszczyk met American casino executive Mr Damond on a meditation retreat in Colorado Springs.

She had grown up on Sydney's Northern Beaches but after meeting Mr Damond followed her heart to Minneapolis.

Her father, John Ruszczyk, still recalls the moment she told him of her plans to relocate.

"I didn't know that this (idea) had progressed past, you know, just casual conversation until the day she called me up and said, 'Dad I found the guy I love and I'm probably going to America.'

A memorial is held at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis for Justine. Picture: Nathan Edwards
A memorial is held at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis for Justine. Picture: Nathan Edwards

"Whoops," said a heartbroken Mr Ruszczyk.

"I didn't want to lose her and I believe that Australia is a great place to live. And so I was hoping she'd bring him back here."

A decision on whether Officer Noor will be charged with Ms Ruszczyk's death is expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

The shooting sparked outrage in Minnesota and Australia and triggered the resignation of the Minneapolis police chief.

Australian Story: Without Rhyme or Reason airs 8pm tonight on ABC and ABCiview.



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