Geraldton shooting: questions raised over WA police decision to use lethal force | Australia news
Joyce Clarke, a 29-year-old Yamatji woman, was shot outside a house in the suburb of Kaloo on Tuesday and died soon after in hospital.
Clarke’s foster mother, Ann Jones, told a rally in Geraldton on Thursday that her family felt hurt and let down by the system, the ABC reported.
The rally followed a protest outside Geraldton police station on Wednesday, which prompted police to introduce strict liquor conditions. Signs posted in the town said the restrictions were put in place due to “high emotions within the Geraldton community”.
Dodson said her family had his deepest sympathies.
“Without wanting to prejudice [the police] inquiry, I can only echo the question being posed by many in the community: why was it necessary to resort to the lethal force of a firearm to resolve whatever trouble the police were confronting on Tuesday evening?” he said.
The WA senator and Yawuru man was one of the commissioners on the 1998-1991 royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.
“The Aboriginal community of Geraldton deserve a full account of what happened,” Dodson said. “Any inquiry, including the coroner’s inquiry, will take a long time to report and community concerns need to be settled as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, I urge the Aboriginal people of Geraldton to stay calm in these difficult times and not to engage in any provocative or retaliatory behaviour.”
Sandy Davies, the chairman of the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service, was with the woman’s family at hospital on Tuesday night.
“She had just come out of jail,” Davies said. ‘She had been in a mental institution and she only came home a few days ago.
Noongar human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade said the investigation should be conducted by an independent body. McGlade said police commissioner Chris Dawson’s apology to Aboriginal people for racist violence and deaths in custody “is meaningless without commitment to reform and addressing racial violence in the police force”.
Deputy police commissioner Gary Dreibergs told Perth radio station 6PR that the decision to use lethal force would be thoroughly investigated, with oversight from the corruption and crime commission and, later, a public inquest.
“Although police are doing the investigation in the first instance there is significant oversight, independent oversight, and police will be asked to be very accountable for their actions and rightly so,” he said.
Dreibergs said police decided what level of force to use based on their perception of the threat and level of training. If they draw their gun, he said, police are “trained to shoot to stop the threat”.
He would not comment on whether the officer involved, who is now on leave, should have used his taser.
“What I can say is that an officer has made a tactical decision based on all the tactical options that were available to him at a point in time … and that’s what that investigation is about,” he said.
Dreibergs said the “sympathies and condolences” of police were with Clarke’s family and the Aboriginal community.
He said the community was entitled to protest but urged they be “calm and respectful”.