Yamatji woman 'lunged' at police before being shot dead, witness tells Perth court

A Geraldton man has given evidence at the murder trial of a WA police officer who shot dead a 29-year-old Yamatji woman.

Francis Clarke (left) youngest sister, and Bernadette Clarke (centre), eldest sister of Yamatji woman 'JC'.

Francis Clarke (left) youngest sister, and Bernadette Clarke (centre), eldest sister of Yamatji woman 'JC'. Source: AAP

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

An Indigenous woman shot dead by a policeman in Western Australia had "lunged" towards officers while holding a knife, an eyewitness has claimed.

The first-class constable is facing trial in the WA Supreme Court accused of murdering the 29-year-old Yamatji woman and mother-of-one, known as JC at her family's request.

He was one of eight police officers who swarmed on a suburban street where JC was seen carrying a large knife and a pair of scissors in Geraldton on 17 September, 2019.

The court has heard JC, who had experienced mental health and drug problems and recently been released from prison, was shot once in the abdomen from close range by the accused while surrounded by police vehicles.

The accused officer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admits causing JC's death but has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

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

His trial on Thursday heard evidence from Geraldton man Johannes Calitz, who had called triple zero while driving home after seeing a person carrying a large knife down the street.

Mr Calitz had initially mistaken JC, who was wearing a hoodie, for a male.

He told the court he parked his car about 30 metres away from the site of the shooting and had an unobstructed view, describing how he saw one officer pointing a taser at JC and another pointing an object he couldn't make out.

He said the person with the knife took a "big step" towards the two officers, who he estimated were standing about four metres away.

"They raised both their hands and lunged towards the officers," Mr Calitz told the court.

He then heard a gunshot and saw JC fall to the ground.

Recordings of police radio calls were also played to the court, including one moments after the shooting by First-Class Constable Lucinda Cleghorn.

"Geraldton base, we need an ambulance immediately to our location. One shot fired," the officer is heard saying in a distressed tone.

The accused, who is on bail, had spent five years as a permanent officer and 18 months as a probationary constable.

Defence lawyer Linda Black said the officer was "not some trigger-happy constable" and had never previously fired his gun while on duty.

He had "less than a second" to take action or risk serious harm to himself and others, she said.

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 7 October 2021 at 7:44pm
Source: AAP - SBS