Police officers claim Yamatji woman ‘moved’ knife before fatal shot

First Class Constable Dillon McLean told a WA murder trial Yamatji woman JC "moved the knife at her side" before being fatally shot.

A supporter of a woman referred to as JC at family's request outside the District Court of Western Australia in Perth.

A supporter of a woman referred to as JC at her family's request outside the District Court of Western Australia in Perth. Source: AAP

This article contains an image of an Aboriginal woman who has died.

The trial of a Western Australian police officer charged with murder for fatally shooting an Aboriginal woman has heard evidence from two other police officers, who claim the deceased woman “moved” a knife the moment before she was shot.

The 29-year-old Yamatji woman, now known by her initials JC at the request of her family, was shot and killed by a police officer in a Geraldton suburb on 17 September, 2019.

That officer, who cannot be named under an order by the WA Supreme Court protecting his identity, has pleaded not guilty to one charge of murder.

First Class Constable Dillon McLean gave evidence during the trial on Monday, one of eight officers present at the scene and seven that have given evidence during the trial of their former colleague.  

First Class Constable McLean was one of three officers who confronted JC on Petchell Street in Rangeway, after she was seen walking on the street while carrying a knife.

JC was shot and killed by a police officer on a suburban street in Geraldton in September 2019.
Source: AAP

He told the court today that when he arrived at the scene, JC had stopped walking away from officers and was standing on the road by the verge with an officer pointing a loaded, police-issued firearm at her.

First Class Constable Mclean said as he exited his vehicle and ran towards JC, he reached for his Taser and yelled “drop the knife or you will be Tasered”.

But he said he was still in the process of arming his Taser when the other officer fired a single gunshot.

“I gave a verbal command, raised my Taser up and began to arm it as she moved the knife at her side,” he told the court.

First Class Constable McLean said JC was holding the knife in her right hand, by her side.  

“I distinctly recall the knife moving from her side,” he said.

First Class Constable Mclean told the court that he did consider drawing his gun, but chose instead to draw his Taser, as the other officer already had a firearm drawn.

Senior Constable Edward Cooney had been driving with the officer now on trial in an unmarked police vehicle, before that officer left the vehicle through the passenger door to confront JC with his firearm drawn.  

Senior Constable Cooney told the court on Monday that JC was holding the knife in her right hand by her side, when he saw her move it slightly before she was shot.

“The way I remember it, it was a sharp flicking motion. I would liken it to a tennis player adjusting their grip on a racquet,” he said.

A video recording of the scene taken by First Class Constable Mclean immediately after JC was shot was played in court on Monday.

The walkthrough of the scene showed a bullet casing lying on the road, about one metre from where the officer that fired the bullet stood. The video showed a serrated knife on the road, approximately two to three metres away from where JC was being treated by paramedics on the side of the road.

JC was taken away in an ambulance but died in hospital from the single gunshot wound about one hour later.

CCTV footage of the shooting taken from a home about 65 metres away was played to the court, which the prosecution said showed that JC did not move towards the officers before she was shot.

The trial continues. 

Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, visit lifeline.org.au or find an Aboriginal Medical Service here. Resources for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be found at Headspace: Yarn Safe.

Published 11 October 2021 at 8:49pm, updated 11 October 2021 at 9:50pm
By Aaron Fernandes
Source: SBS News