Acquitted WA police officer keen to return

Supporters of an Indigenous woman shot dead by WA police have protested around the country.
Supporters of an Indigenous woman shot dead by WA police have protested around the country.

The first-class constable acquitted of murdering an Aboriginal woman in regional Western Australia has indicated he is keen to return to the police force.

Protests were held across the country on Thursday after the officer was last week cleared over the fatal 2019 police shooting of the woman, known as JC.

The mother-of-one, aged 29, had experienced significant mental health and drug problems and recently been released from prison when she was shot dead by the officer from close range while surrounded by police vehicles in Geraldton.

The officer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the WA Supreme Court he had acted in self-defence.

He claimed JC, who was armed with a knife and a pair of scissors, had raised the knife and moved as if to lunge at him before he pulled the trigger.

After deliberating for three hours on Friday, the jury found the officer not guilty of murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said he had since spoken to the officer who had indicated he wished to continue in the force.

"We'll work our way through an assessment there in terms of any re-training and how we can proceed the way through that," he told reporters.

The verdict was met with anger and devastation by JC's family, including her nine-year-old son.

About 100 people rallied on Thursday outside Parliament House in Perth, with protesters leaving red hand marks on the building's steps.

A protest was also held in JC's hometown of Geraldton, while others were due to take place in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

Noongar activist Mervyn Eades told the Perth rally it was unacceptable there were no Aboriginal jury members on the JC trial.

"Here we are again once more. A sister taken, a mother, a daughter," he told the crowd.

"The legal system in Western Australia, they're not here for our people - they never have been. No one will ever be found guilty of any death of any of our people."

Mr Dawson, who formally apologised in 2018 for the force's historical mistreatment of Aboriginal people, said police had also engaged with JC's family.

"We will continue to walk with Aboriginal people," he said.

"I'm well aware that there's emotions running high ... my appeal is for leaders in the community to stand strongly and stand defensively against anyone committing any unlawful acts."

Australian Associated Press