Police officer ‘sorry’ for killing wombat
An Aboriginal police officer has apologised for stoning a wombat to death on video, and says his family has been targeted with "hundreds of death threats", some aimed at his children, over the killing.
Senior Community Constable Waylon Johncock has spoken for the first time about the video that caused national outrage after it emerged on social media in October.
In a letter addressed to members of the South Australian Far West Coast Aboriginal community, Sen-Const. Johncock says he can now clearly see "raw content can be offensive to anyone" unfamiliar with traditional hunting practices.
The letter, published exclusively by NITV News, details how Johncock's family has been "under attack from the outside world" and "received hundreds of death threats".
"Some of these threats have been targeted at my family but the most disturbing of all were the ones written and targeted at my children," he wrote in the letter.
"In relation to the wombat matter, it was never my intention to cause anyone distress.
"I completely agree with our traditional elders that the footage should have never been posted on social media because it has given the outside world a look into our traditional ways of living and for that I am deeply sorry."
Sen-Const. Johncock said he was unaware the footage would be shared on social media, or that it would be altered to "try dishonour my occupation, name, family or culture".
"These practices are a normal way of life for us Aboriginal people here on the Far West Coast.
"As you are all aware, I was in my religious capacity and was within my cultural right to take the life of the wombat and that it was cleaned, passed onto family and was then cut up and shared out amongst multiple other families."
The graphic video showed a car following a wombat along a dirt road before Sen-Const. Johncock got out of the vehicle and gave the camera a "thumbs up".
He then launched an attack on the animal, picking up a rock from the road and hurling it at the marsupial from just metres away.
The wombat tried to flee but he gave chase and threw more rocks. The last blow in the video showed the wombat being hit in the head at close range, stumbling and rolling over.
Sen-Const. Johncock will not face criminal or internal disciplinary charges over the incident, SA Police revealed last week.
Instead, he will receive managerial advice and counselling for allowing the incident to be filmed.
A criminal and disciplinary investigation into the incident found Sen-Const. Johncock had taken the wombat within traditional hunting laws, had a permit to hunt wombats for food and the wombat he killed was consumed by his family.
The result prompted the RSPCA to call for an immediate review of laws that allow traditional hunting to ensure it be "conducted humanely''.