Geraldton shooting: police officer charged with murder over death of Indigenous woman

Calla Wahlquist
Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

A police officer has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of an Aboriginal woman in Western Australia last year.

The police officer, who was not named in court, appeared before the Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday afternoon and was referred to the Supreme Court for a bail hearing.

He was arrested in Geraldton on Thursday morning.

Joyce Clarke, 29, was shot dead by a police officer outside her house in Geraldton on 17 September.

Related: Geraldton shooting: Indigenous woman dies after being shot by police in Western Australia

At the time, WA police said they were called to the Yamatji woman’s house by her family, and that “during an incident at the address, an officer discharged their firearm causing a woman to receive a gunshot wound”.

Clarke’s family said they called police for assistance in transferring her to hospital, because she was having “difficulty at home” after being recently released from jail.

Clarke’s death prompted a snap protest in Geraldton and calls for greater oversight of deaths in police custody.

Police conducted a critical incident review after the shooting, overseen by the corruption and crime commission.

Related: Geraldton shooting: questions raised over WA police decision to use lethal force

On Thursday, a spokesman for WA police said officers from the major crime squad arrested a police officer in Geraldton “as a suspect in relation to the fatal shooting of Ms Clarke”.

“Members of Ms Clarke’s family have been advised of this morning’s developments, as have WA police force staff,” the police statement said. “As this is an active investigation further information cannot be provided at this time and updates will be provided when possible.”

Anne Jones, Joyce’s foster mother, told Guardian Australia: “I’ve been told that I cannot say anything that might influence a trial, but I’m glad that steps have been taken to bring justice for Joyce. The whole Aboriginal community will watch this process with great interest.”

Her lawyer, George Newhouse from the National Justice Project, said “Anne Jones has conducted herself with dignity throughout this traumatic and extended process. All she can do now is hope that there is a just outcome for her and her daughter.”

The WA Police Union said it was supporting the officer who was arrested on Thursday morning, including providing legal support.

“We stand by the police officer 100% and will do throughout this ordeal,” the union president, Harry Arnott, said.