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19 Aug 2017 8:09
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  •   Home > News > International

    Justine Damond: Meet the friends and family fighting to shine a light on the Australian's death

    The Australian woman killed by a police officer in the US is remembered by loved ones at a memorial in the US, where bubbling beneath the surface is anger and a determination to find justice over the life cut short.

    Today's ceremony for Justine Damond was emotional and powerful.

    It was at a lake roughly a mile from her house — a favoured spot in her new city.

    It was a celebration of her life but the raw grief meant the tragic circumstances of her death — shot by a police officer she called for help — bubbled beneath the surface.

    These are some of the friends and family who spoke of their beloved Justine and who will continue to fight for justice as what is expected to be a lengthy investigation continues.

    Her father:

    John Ruszczyk is mourning a daughter far from home.

    "You have stolen my daughter and ripped her from my arms," he said.

    "Justine should not have died. This is wrong on every level, from the cosmic — Justine was exploring our spiritual nature and teaching love and compassion; we need that kind of person with us — to the mundane; Justine, my daughter, was killed by a bullet fired by an agent of the state.

    "I don't understand. I should have been on a plane to her wedding but we were flying to her funeral."

    Her husband-to-be:

    Ms Damond's fiance Don Damond told the crowd he should have been on a plane to Hawaii for their wedding.

    "I was to be married to Justine on this upcoming Thursday," he said.

    "We were — actually it's, some would call it a cruel irony, but it's just an irony that we would have been on the airplane now heading to our destination. And it's rather surreal. But the irony isn't really lost on any of us, I don't think.

    "So there will obviously not be a wedding. But one of the things I can do — and I was going to do — in front of many witnesses is express my vows of love to Justine."

    Friends from all over the world:

    Rosie McGowan from Colorado and Lindsay Ainger from Bristol helped open the memorial: Ms McGowan read a prayer while Ms Ainger lit Ms Damond's candle.


    "Honestly I'm feeling Justine and Justine's personality. It was one of great humour, tremendous joy and I can just feel her basically saying 'you guys are being so serious'. I know, but it's a memorial. 'Yeah but you're being so serious'."


    "Well it's [the prayer and poem] really been something that's been thought of from the family and the emphasis is on Justine's sense of who she is and was as a person.

    "So they wanted the prayer to really evoke how she felt about the world and what she would say if she was here."


    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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