West Australian Police Commissioner, Chris Dawson has announced officers in the town of Geraldton will have body camera training as soon as next month, following the death of an Aboriginal woman.
Yamatji woman, Joyce Clarke, died from her gunshot wounds to her stomach after police encountered Ms Clarke on route to a disturbance in the Geraldton suburb of Karloo, 400 kilometres north of Perth.
The Police Commissioner confirmed police did not wear body cameras and is unaware if there is any dash-cam footage. He announced the training and roll-out of body-worn cameras will be brought forward to next month.
“I’m not satisfied that the existing plan to train and equip all operational police across the state is progressing as quickly as required,” Mr Dawson said at a press conference in Perth.
Additional trainers have been added onto the roll-out program and the Commissioner said he wants to ensure training is done properly.
Since July this year, 637 police officers have been trained with body-worn cameras.
Commissioner Dawson also expressed his deepest sympathies to Ms Clarke's family and the Aboriginal community and said her death demands a full and complete investigation.
“There will not be any cover-up or skimming over facts,” he said.
Commissioner Dawson confirmed Geraldton police were called to two separate incidents in Karloo on Tuesday night and said a total of eight officers were on the scene when Ms Clarke was shot.
“The police must exercise judgement as to what force can be used to deal with particular circumstances they encounter,” he said.
Police state there are 20 witnesses who have been interviewed. 14 of them have stated Ms Clarke had a knife.
The Commissioner also defended the decision made by police on Wednesday to impose liquor restrictions in the small town, less than 24 hours after Ms Clarke’s death.
WA Police previously said Ms Clarke’s death is being treated as a death in police presence.
Earlier in the day, the Aboriginal community in Geraldton continued their calls for justice and answers, two days after Ms Clarke’s death.
Protesters marched through Geraldton’s town centre demanding justice, many still angry over the police officer’s decision to not use a non-lethal alternative to his sidearm.
“Justice for Joyce,” they called.
“How many more of our people will die before justice is served and we are treated equal,” one sign said.
Ms Clarke’s mother, Anne Jones, addressed the supporters and said she feels let down by the system.
“I’m still numb but I appreciate the support here today,” she told the crowd.
Yawuru leader and WA Senator, Pat Dodson has also echoed the concerns over why a non-lethal alternative wasn’t used and has urged the Geraldton community to remain calm.
“The Aboriginal community of Geraldton deserve a full account of what happened,” he said in a statement.
“Any inquiry, including the Coroner’s inquiry, will take a long time to report and community concerns need to be settled as soon as possible.”
The Mayor of Geraldton, Shane Van Styn, joined protesters and has asked the WA Government for an urgent overhaul of the town’s mental health service.