WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains images of a person who has died.
Red handprints have been daubed on the steps of Parliament House in Perth during a protest over a policeman being cleared of murdering an Aboriginal woman who he shot dead during a stand-off.
More than 100 people gathered in the city to honour JC, whose full name is not used for cultural reasons, while another 200 protesters rallied in Geraldton where she died in September 2019.
The constable who shot the 29-year-old was last week cleared of all criminal wrongdoing.
Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told reporters the officer, whose name has been suppressed by the Supreme Court, had indicated he wanted to remain with the force.
“I have spoken to the officer and his wife shortly after … the jury acquitted him,” he said.
“We’ll work our way through an assessment there in terms of any retraining and/or how we can actually proceed.
“We’ve also continued to engage with the family of the deceased, JC. We will continue to walk with Aboriginal people. I’m well aware that emotions are running high.
“My appeal is for leaders in the community to stand strongly and to stand sensibly against anyone committing any unlawful acts.”
The trial heard JC was suffering poor mental health when she took a kitchen knife from her relatives’ home and wandered through the streets of Rangeway holding it.
Eight officers rushed to the scene, but only one fired his gun at the mother-of-one.
The constable testified that he acted in self-defence, saying JC had turned towards him and raised the knife before he pulled the trigger.
He was the first WA police officer to face a murder charge for a death in custody in 93 years.
The jury was shown footage of JC being shot while surrounded by the police vehicles.
After deliberating for about three hours, the jury acquitted the officer of both murder and manslaughter.
On Thursday, protesters including actor and television personality Ernie Dingo called for reform of the justice system to protect indigenous people in custody.
After covering their hands in red dye, may people placed them on the steps of parliament.
As police tried to stop the protesters, Mr Dingo stepped in and spoke with the officers.
He then directed fellow protesters back down the stairs.
Protesters held signs and waved the Aboriginal flag during the rally.
Red hand prints on the steps of WA’s Parliament House during a protest over the death of Yamatji woman JC, shot by a police officer in Geraldton who was last week found not guilty of any criminality. pic.twitter.com/fdDPgjDEXd
— Nicolas Perpitch (@NicPerpitch) October 28, 2021
Hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody in 1991, but no police or corrections officer has been convicted.
Before the rallies, Premier Mark McGowan said he understood the “angst and frustration” people were feeling.
“We just ask people to be law-abiding and peaceful, and do their protests in a way that doesn’t intimidate or threaten anyone else,” he said.
“It’s obviously a very highly charged situation – we just ask people to protest in a way that is respectful of others.”