Police seek advice in cop wombat stoning investigation
Police have sought a legal opinion from the Director of Public Prosecutions in the wombat stoning case involving police officer Waylon Johncock.
Sources have told The Advertiser the decision to seek an independent legal opinion was taken because of the "complexity and issues involved in the case''.
The legal opinion will determine whether or not respected community constable Waylon Johncock will face any criminal charges relating to animal cruelty.
Police today declined to comment on the move, other than to state the investigation was ongoing.
The inquiry was launched earlier this month after footage emerged on social media of Constable Johncock, a community constable based on SA's far-west coast, stoning a wombat and laughing about it with a friend.
The video sparked community outrage, with calls for Constable Johncock to be charged with animal cruelty offences.
However, some Aboriginal community elders quickly came to Constable Johncock's defence, stating his actions were in line with traditional hunting practices.
Since the investigation was launched, Internal Investigations detectives have spent some time on the west coast interviewing numerous people, including the witness to the incident, Johncock's family and associates and Aboriginal elders.
An online petition organised by the Wombat Awareness Organisation has gathered more than 150,000 signatures calling for the laws that allow traditional hunting to be reviewed.
Both sides of politics have not ruled out reviewing the laws, but are waiting for the outcome of the police investigation before making any final decisions.
A fortnight ago, Premier Steven Marshall - who described the vision of the wombat being stoned as "disturbing'' and "gut-wrenching'' - said he had spoken to many Aboriginal leaders about the activity and they did not support animal cruelty.
"Every piece of legislation exists in a dynamic environment … but let's just wait to see what this investigation shows," Mr Marshall said at the time.
"Aboriginal culture is usually practised in private so I question the way in which what happened in this case has been disseminated through social media."
Ngarrindjeri elder Major Sumner denounced the activity and called on the State Government to strengthen legislation so traditional hunting laws were not exploited.
Mr Sumner, 71, described the actions of Constable, as well as the person filming the attack as "wrong".
"The way they went about it, it was just more of a joke, a fun thing for them," he said.
"There's no respect for that animal whatsoever. We didn't hunt like that. We still don't hunt like that."
Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation chief executive John Buckskin said some people in the Aboriginal community used guns to hunt for food, while others still adhered to "old methods" and used "whatever is available" to them.
"Some of these traditional practices may not be seen as appropriate in the European (culture)," he said.
"If it's not for hunting, and it appears to be for sport, then it's not appropriate.
"In my opinion, I wouldn't condone killing for sport. If it appears to be for sport, there are laws against animal cruelty to deal with that."