A police officer filmed stoning a wombat on a dirt road in South Australia will not be charged over the incident, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens has said.
In October footage emerged of Senior Community Constable Waylon Johncock, in which the off duty cop was seen following a wombat down a remote road at Gawler Ranges, before giving the thumbs up to the camera and throwing a rock at the animal.
Following an internal investigation and advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions, Commissioner Stevens said no disciplinary or criminal sanctions were warranted.
In his statement issued on Friday, the Commissioner said the investigation found that “as a traditional Aboriginal man, the Senior Community Constable has an appropriate permit to hunt wombats for food”.
“Whilst distressing to many who viewed the video, it has been established the Senior Community Constable’s actions were not inconsistent with traditional hunting practices,” he said.
“I have been advised that the wombat in the video was killed and eaten. The video shown on social media was part of a longer video that has not been released.”
The Commissioner said South Australia Police “received an unprecedented number of telephone calls, emails and social media comments demanding a response to this issue” after the footage emerged two months ago.
“The video is confronting for many people, I found it confronting. I stand by my reaction to the treatment of the wombat,” he said.
“I still find some of the content of the video disturbing – I take personal displeasure in seeing any animal distressed, or being killed as the wombat was killed. I know many shared in my shock and dismay. I gave a public undertaking there would be a robust and thorough investigation, and that I would provide advice regarding the outcome of that investigation.”
Constable Johncock has been “provided managerial advice and counselling regarding the implications of social media” following the incident.
When the footage emerged in October, animal welfare groups condemned the video.
The Wombat Awareness Organisation, who originally posted the video on Facebook, launched an online petition for native animals to be protected and the man be prosecuted.
Other Australian identities expressed their outrage on social media and called for action.
“It is clear from the outpouring of emotions that some may question the outcome of this investigation,” Commissioner Stevens said on Friday.
“I can reassure everyone that the most thorough of investigations has been undertaken in this matter.”
With additional reporting by Carly Williams.