MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - It has been one year since Justine Damond was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer, and people who knew her gathered both in Minnesota and in her native Australia Saturday to honor her memory.
"Although 9,000 miles separates us, I feel that we're in unity with them and them with us," said Don Damond, Justine Damond's fiance.
On July 15, 2017, Justine was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor. Noor and his partner were driving in an alley in south Minneapolis responding to Damond's 911 call. She had called to report noises that sounded to her like a possible sexual assault nearby. When she approached the driver's side window of the squad car, Noor fired through the open window. She died minutes later.
A year after the shooting, her fiance asked family and friends to gather along Minnehaha Creek to dedicate a memorial bench. The spot near Washburn Avenue held special meaning for the couple, who first met in 2012 and lived apart for a time.
"It's there that I told Justine that I loved her, and there she said she loved me for the first time," Don said. "And we planned our lives together, while sitting on that swing, 9,000 miles apart."
Justine moved permanently to the United States and settled in Minneapolis. She became a part of the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, where her friends say she taught meditation and so much more.
"She was the light in the room when you walked inside and that was a part I miss," said Jay Peterson, a friend of Justine's. "You knew when Justine showed up it was going to be a good time. You knew there was going to be a lot of fun, a lot of laughter."
"When people die, it's easy to deify them, to make them saints, to make them better than they were and with Justine, there was no need to do that," said Sharon Sebring, Don's mother. "That's why you are here, because you saw something, you heard something, you felt something with her."
Don and others at the gathering said over the next year they will continue their push for more police reform and training.