WA cop charged with murder granted bail

Joyce Clarke, 29, was allegedly armed with a knife when a constable shot her on September 17 on a residential street in Karloo, Geraldton. Picture: Facebook
Joyce Clarke, 29, was allegedly armed with a knife when a constable shot her on September 17 on a residential street in Karloo, Geraldton. Picture: Facebook

A POLICEMAN charged with murder over the shooting death of a troubled Aboriginal woman in Western Australia’s Mid West region has been granted bail.

Joyce Clarke, 29, was allegedly armed with a knife when a constable shot her on a street in Karloo, Geraldton, on September 17 last year.

The officer initially faced Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday and stood behind a glass barrier wearing a white singlet.

Magistrate Mark Millington agreed to suppress his identity due to safety concerns for his family, including children.

A short time later, the officer appeared in the WA Supreme Court, in a long-sleeved business shirt.

Defence counsel Linda Black applied for bail, which Justice Michael Corboy granted.

The officer will face Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court on March 25.

Joyce Clarke. Picture: Facebook

WA Police Union president Harry Arnott said the man was being supported.

“We stand by the police officer 100 per cent and will do throughout this ordeal,” Mr Arnott said.

“Our focus is on the member’s welfare and ensuring his rights are protected.”

Ms Clarke, a mother of one, had mental health problems and was recently released from prison when shot.

Family and supporters have demanded to know why a Taser was not used on her instead of a gun, and rallies were held last year.

Ms Clarke’s adoptive mother Anne Jones, who took care of her from the age of five months, said she was cautious about interfering with the legal process.

“The whole Aboriginal community will watch this process with great interest,” she said.

Her lawyer George Newhouse, from the National Justice Project, said Ms Jones had conducted herself with dignity throughout a traumatic and extended process.

“All she can do now is hope that there is a just outcome for her and her daughter,” he said.

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project director Megan Krakouer told AAP she had also been in contact with Ms Jones.

“We’ll be watching with great interest.”

NSPTRP national co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos said the group had been supporting 31 family members since Ms Joyce’s “harrowed, tragic death”.

He told AAP it was only the second time a police officer had been charged over a custodial death, following the acquittal of five officers over the death of 16-year-old Aboriginal boy John Pat in Roebourne in 1983.

The royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody was held a few years later.

Following Ms Clarke’s death, the WA Police Force fast-tracked the roll-out of body-worn cameras for officers in the area.