EXCLUSIVE: Joyce Clarke’s death was murder, say activists.

By Sarah Smit

As Joyce Clarke’s body was laid to rest last week, Indigenous activists were calling for murder charges against the Geraldton police officer who shot her in September.

The Deputy Chair of the Death in Custody Watch Commission WA, Mervyn Eades, says that there is a need to revisit the death of Miss Clarke.

“It’s great that they’ve charged the officer in Yuendumu for Mr.Walker’s death, but we also need to have a look at what’s being done about Ms. Clarke.”

“We need to ask that question because it’s a very serious question. The police involved with that should also be charged with murder, I say.”

Ms. Clarke died in Geraldton on September 17 after being shot in the stomach by a police constable.

According to Mr. Eades, this is the only police shooting case where the identity of the officer involved has not been released.

“The police officer who shot her has not even been identified so far.”

In a statement to the ABC, a spokeswoman for WA police said that the investigation was still ongoing.

The calls come in the wake of Constable Zach Rolfe being charged with murder over the death in custody of a 19-year-old man from the central Australia town of Yuendumu, now known as Kumanjayi Walker for cultural reasons.

This is only the second time police officers have ever been charged for the death in custody of an Indigenous Australian.

Attorney General John Quigley said there is a need to reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous Australians in the prison population.

“We’re going to work assiduously to bring down the indigenous prison population.”

“For minor offenders–traffic offences and driving without licence–we’re trying to steer them away and find alternative routes for them.”

“[We are] eradicating imprisonment as a fines enforcement measure—that’s how Ms Dhu died.”

State Opposition Leader Liza Harvey said that the Department of Communities was too inefficient and chaotic to effectively provide diversionary services to keep people out of prison.

“We know that [because of] the chaos in the Department of Communities more vulnerable people are going to find themselves in the criminal justice system, because they’re not getting the help they need from these departments.”

Mr Eadestold WAMN that the rate of imprisonment in WA is out of control.

“West Australia is the mother of all jailers.”

“There is something seriously wrong in Western Australia.”

 

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