Cop Who Stoned Wombat Apologises, Defends Indigenous Practice
An Indigenous off-duty police officer who was filmed stoning a wombat to death in South Australia has apologised to his community, and detailed the death threats his children have received as a result of the backlash.
In an open letter addressed to the Far West Coast Aboriginal Community and obtained exclusively by NITV, Senior Community Constable Waylon Johncock penned his apology and reflections.
"I can now clearly see how such raw content can be offensive to anyone who is unfamiliar with our Traditional hunting practices," Johncock wrote.
After an investigation, it was decided that the off-duty police officer would not face charges, because as an Aboriginal man Johncock had the appropriate permit to hunt wombats for food.
However, the officer said the release of the footage was harmful.
"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. "
The footage went viral in early October, prompting national outcry and sparking a debate about upholding cultural practices and animal rights.
The officer also said he did not know the video would be shared, adding even thought what he was doing has been practiced by Indigenous people for tens of thousands of years.
"I was introduced to hunting Native tucker at a very young age. The knowledge and skills I have gained over the years to understand our land and effectively hunt native animals independently I will pass onto my children."
Reflecting on his children, Johncock detailed how much this incident has affected them.
"... I have 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."
The Kokatha and Wirangu man signed off with a plea for people to be more kind and less reactive on social media.
"I ask and encourage you all to ignore social media conflicts, refuse to participate in any hatred conversations online, it isn’t worth your energy nor time."
An online petition with more than 360,000 signatures is seeking to have Native Title Laws reviewed.
A protest has also been arranged for this Sunday seeking to appeal SA police's decision.