Cops testify at WA police murder trial

·3-min read

A policeman has described how he attempted to engage with a knife-wielding Indigenous woman moments before she was shot dead by a fellow officer in regional Western Australia.

The first-class constable is facing trial in the WA Supreme Court accused of murdering the 29-year-old 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 the Mid West town of Geraldton on September 17, 2019.

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.

His trial on Friday heard testimony from Senior Constable Adrian Barker, one of three officers on the scene who exited their vehicles and approached to be within close proximity of JC before the shooting.

Const Barker was not holding a weapon, unlike the accused and the third officer who had drawn but not activated a Taser.

He told the court he couldn't see any other officers from where he was situated and had not been looking at JC's hands.

Director of Public Prosecutions Amanda Forrester SC asked Const Barker why he hadn't drawn a weapon.

"Guns or a firearm, even a Taser or pepper spray, for me I feel they're a barrier to communication," he said.

"I was trying to talk to her, to get her to drop it. I was aware other officers were there to assist me.

"And I'm an appalling shot."

Const Barker had previously dealt with JC, including 10 days before the shooting when he took her to hospital after she threatened self-harm.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Linda Black, he said his focus had been drawn to JC "grinding her jaw" and he hadn't seen the pair of scissors in her left hand.

"Do you accept that you truly had tunnel vision that day?" Ms Black asked.

"Yeah," he replied.

First-Class Constable Lucinda Cleghorn, one of the five officers who remained in their vehicles, said she had feared for Const Barker.

"I was afraid for him," she told the court.

"Because from what I could see, he was so close to (JC) that I thought he was going to be stabbed ... he was completely vulnerable.

"It looked as if he was trying to sneak up on her."

In earlier testimony, Const Cleghorn said she didn't see JC move at all during the confrontation but her attention had been focused on Const Barker.

Senior Constable Kenneth Walker, who had been sitting next to her in the driver's seat, told the court the only movement he saw was JC clenching her right hand "in an agitated fashion" which caused the knife to move slightly.

The court on Thursday heard evidence from civilian witness Johannes Calitz, who said he saw JC raise both hands and "lunge" towards the officers from his vantage point about 30m away.

Prosecutors argue that CCTV footage shows JC did not move towards the officers and the shooting was "wholly unnecessary".

Ms Black has said her client, who is on bail, 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.

The trial continues.

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