WARNING - DISTRESSING CONTENT: A surprising excuse has been given for why a South Australian police officer stoned a wombat in a callous act intentionally caught on camera.
The officer has been identified in media reports as Waylon Johncock who is stationed on SA's west coast.
The video shows a man following a wombat along a dirt road while throwing rocks at it while he is cheered on by a friend in a car.
Towards the end, the wombat falls over and stops moving after being struck several times in the head.
While the video has been widely criticised, with calls to have Mr Johncock sacked and prosecuted, Port Lincoln-based Wirangu-Kokatha elder Jack Johncock told the ABC Indigenous people have stoned wombats “for thousands of years”.
The police officer identifies as indigenous.
"It's easy for people to sit back and judge people," the elder told the ABC.
"For the people of the west coast of South Australia, the wombat is a big part of their diet and they'll get wombat any way they can."
It is not known if the two are related.
However, Ngarrindjeri elder Major Sumner, 71, told the Adelaide Advertiser, “We didn’t hunt like that. We still don’t hunt like that”.
“The way they went about it, it was just more of a joke, a fun thing for them,” he told the paper.
South Australian Premier Steve Marshall said the video is “gut-wrenching”.
Mr Marshall said there were cultural practices that, under the Native Title laws, allowed the taking of native animals by Aboriginal people. But he said he had spoken to indigenous leaders about the matter over the past 24 hours and their position was very clear.
"Animal cruelty is animal cruelty," he said. "Most people looking at that footage would be disgusted."
Mr Marshall said it might also be time to look at the legislation that allowed the taking of native animals.
As he launched an investigation on Thursday, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens described the conduct of the officer as "totally abhorrent".
"I am aware of the community outrage regarding this matter," he said in a statement.
"I want to reassure everybody that the actions in the video do not align with the values and behaviours I expect from my employees, nor does it align with community standards.
"Numerous employees of South Australia police have also expressed to me that they, too, find the footage detestable and not consistent with their values."
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