Don Damond revealed that he spoke with Justine Damond via phone just before she was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer

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July 24, 2017 03:42 PM

Justine Damond called her fiancé, Don Damond, the night of July 15, when she suspected there may have been a sexual assault near the couple’s Minneapolis home.

Don urged the Australian yoga instructor to call the police and then he hung up when she said they had arrived — a decision he says has stuck with him.

“I have played this over in my head, over and over,” Don told the New York Times in a story published on Saturday. “Why didn’t I stay on the phone with her?”

Authorities said Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, 31, shot and killed Justine, a 40-year-old bride-to-be after she called 911 that night to report the possible assault. (Police later said there was no evidence found of a sexual assault in the area.)

Noor and another officer responded around 11:30 p.m., according to authorities.

Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, later told the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that as they drove down an alley looking for a possible suspect, he was “startled by a loud sound.” He said Justine approached the squad car immediately after — at which point Noor fired on her from the passenger’s seat, through the driver’s-side window.

Why Noor opened fire remains unclear. Harrity’s attorney has suggested the officers feared an “ambush.”

Neither of the officers’ body cameras were on at the time.

Justine Damond
Justine Ruszczyk Damond/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ZUMA Wire

The medical examiner’s office ruled Justine’s death a homicide and said that she had been shot in the abdomen, records show.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the BCA, as is standard. Noor has declined to be interviewed by the BCA.

His attorney said in a previous statement that his client “empathizes with the loss others are experiencing,” and he promised more information in the future.

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The shooting has made international headlines as hundreds took to marches and vigils and the Minneapolis police chief resigned.

Don’s comments to the Times mark his first interview since Justine’s death. He told the paper that the two met in 2012 at a retreat in Colorado Springs and quickly hit it off.

Zach Damond (left) and his father, Don, in Minneapolis after Justine Damond's shooting death
Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP

“Hey, I just met my future wife,” he recalled telling a friend of Justine, a Sydney native, after the retreat. “The only problem is, she lives 9,000 miles away.”

Justine moved to Minnesota in 2015 and she and Don were expected to marry in August. (She had already publicly taken his last name.)

In the wake of the shooting, he told reporters that he was “utterly devastated” by his fiancée’s death.

“Our lives are forever changed as a result of knowing her, she was so kind and so darn funny, she made us all laugh with her great wit and her humor,” Don said the day after Justine was killed. “It is difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life.”

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