Woman dies in police shooting

Picture: File image
Picture: File image

THE family of an Aboriginal woman shot dead by police on a residential street in Western Australia’s coastal Mid West region have demanded to know why officers did not instead deploy their Tasers.

Joyce Clarke, 29, was reportedly armed with a knife when police attended a home in Karloo, Geraldton and one officer shot her about 6.15pm on Tuesday.

“During an incident at the address, an officer discharged their firearm causing a woman to receive a gunshot wound,” police said in a statement.

Ms Clarke was rushed by ambulance to Geraldton Regional Hospital where she later died.

She leaves behind a seven-year-old son, who lives with another relative.

AAP understands Ms Clarke had only recently been released from Bandyup prison.

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project national co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos told AAP the organisation was supporting the family, including Ms Clarke’s foster mother Anne Jones, who lives in Mullewa.

“It’s as harrowing as it gets,” Mr Georgatos said.

“The family is hurting and there’s a lot of confusion about what has occurred.

“There’s a sea of grief at the moment from Mullewa to Geraldton.”

Mr Georgatos said he had heard Ms Clarke may have been armed with a knife, but police have not confirmed the report.

He said the family wanted to know why a Taser was not used on Ms Clarke instead of a gun.

About 60 people protested outside the local police station on Wednesday, with some holding signs including one that read: “What is a Taser for? RIP Joyce.”

Officers lowered the Aboriginal flag to half-mast and spoke with the peaceful but upset crowd.

“If she had a knife, taser her. Don’t shoot her,” one protester said.

Among the group was Carol Roe, the grandmother of 22-year-old Aboriginal woman Ms Dhu who died in a Pilbara hospital in 2014 two days after being locked up at the local police station for unpaid fines.

One witness told reporters she was frightened during the incident.

“I come running out looking, like ‘what the hell?’ … when I looked there, there’s like eight police on the ground all around her,” she said.

“I had my daughter on me and I went out there and I heard, ‘she’s been shot, ring the ambulance’, so I just grabbed her and ran back inside. I was shocked. I was terrified. It was scary.”

Major Crime officers have travelled to Geraldton to investigate.

The Police Internal Affairs Unit will conduct a separate inquiry, which is standard protocol.

The Corruption and Crime Commission and WA Coroner will also oversee the case.

Regional WA Commander Alan Morton told reporters the officer involved was traumatised and had taken immediate leave.

“No police officer goes to work with the expectation they’ll have to use lethal force,” he said.

Commander Morton offered his condolences to Ms Clarke’s family and said “one of the main areas of investigation” would centre on why a Taser was not used.

“Everyone wants quick answers but it’s just unfair for me to draw early conclusions,” he said.

WA Police Union president Harry Arnott said the union was standing by its members involved in the “tragic incident” and would assist them through the internal investigation process.

“Our thoughts go out to the police officers involved and their families in this terrible circumstance,” he said.