A police commissioner's comments about 15-year-old Cassius Turvey's death have been slammed as "awful" by members of the public.
Police say the Noongar teen and a group of his friends were approached by 21-year-old Jack Brearley while walking home from school in Middle Swan, Perth on October 13.
Brearley — who has been charged with murder — had got out of a black Ford Ranger ute from the passenger seat before allegedly beating the boy in school uniform with a metal pole, resulting in him being hospitalised with serious injuries.
He died eight days later.
While police have been investigating motives, one of Western Australia Police Force Commissioner Col Blanch's comments to media have been called into question.
Commissioner Blanch told 6PR "[Police are] not operating on any principles of racism or motivation at this point, other than to say we believe there was a damage incident that occurred and that resulted in the murder of a very young boy."
"It may be a case of mistaken identity, it may be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I would not want anyone in the community to jump to any conclusions at this time.
"We are still collecting evidence, we are still seeking more witnesses."
'Wrong place at wrong time' comments spark backlash
Writer, speaker and activist, Carly Findlay, slammed Commissioner Blanch's comments as inappropriate.
"The Police Commissioner's attitude is awful," she said on Twitter. "Does that mean the man who killed Cassius was in the right place at the right time? Cassius should have been safe to walk home."
Yorta Yorta man and rapper, Adam Briggs, also known as Senator Briggs, expressed his heartbreak online as well.
"I can't begin to explain the rage this brings me," he said of the cop's comments on Twitter.
"It's too easy to draw a comparison of 'what if it was a white kid?'. I'm tired of having to equate our humanity with white people."
"I'm constantly told we're making ground 'Things are getting better now, they're talking about issues'. Are they? Looks like you're chatting around the table while the house is on fire. I look for actions, not words."
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Commissioner Blanch confirmed that "at this stage it appears Cassius was an innocent victim of a violent attack".
"He was simply spending time with his friends when he was assaulted.
"I urge community members to refrain from unfounded speculation regarding this tragic death of a young boy, who was a much loved family member and friend."
Police have also said the accused's vehicle was damaged a day before the viscous attack, which Mr Turvey's family have denied he was responsible for.
Family and community mourn Cassius's death
A GoFundMe has been created to cover costs for Mr Turvey's "funeral, legal costs for criminal compensation and justice", which has raised more than $270,000 out of the $250K goal.
The family also mentioned they "only buried his father one month ago from losing his battle from cancer".
Indigenous Senator, Lidia Thorpe, paid tribute to Mr Turvey in parliament, describing him as "a loved member of the Noongar community who ran his own lawn mowing business and would allow community members to decide how much they could pay him".
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