An off-duty police officer who stoned a wombat to death in a horrific act of cruelty is back on duty just one week after footage of the incident went viral.
The video, which showed Waylon Johncock running down a road topless while throwing large rocks at the defenceless animal, was shared on social media in the days following and sparked outrage among the community.
Johncock, a South Australian police community liaison officer, is currently under investigation by the South Australian police for his ‘abhorrent’ actions – although he continues to work as normal while the investigation continues.
A spokesperson for the South Australian police confirmed earlier today (October 9) that Johncock has not been suspended from his role, the MailOnline reports.
However, Commissioner Grant Stevens promised on October 2 the investigation would be handled with the ‘utmost seriousness’, saying an update would be released early this week. There is yet to be an update.
I find the actions portrayed in the footage to be totally abhorrent and unacceptable. I am aware of the community outrage regarding this matter.
I want to reassure everybody that the actions in the video do not align with the values and behaviours I expect from my employees, nor does it align with community standards.
Numerous employees of South Australia Police have also expressed to me that they, too, find the footage detestable and not consistent with their values.
In the video in question, Johncock can be seen getting out of a truck and chasing after the lone wombat, before another man behind the wheel tells him to ‘get up close’.
The off-duty officer then picks up a rock and hurls it at the helpless animal as it tries to run away, before picking up yet another rock and landing his final blow towards the wombat.
He did all of this to cheers of ‘kill him!’ from the driver of the vehicle, with the pair then celebrating the kill together and Johncock smiling triumphantly – even giving a thumbs-up sign to the camera.
Although the incident sparked outrage and Johncock was widely condemned, resulting in more than 310,000 people signing a petition calling for justice to be served, an Aboriginal elder later defended the video and called Johncock’s actions ‘cultural practice’.
Wirangu-Kokatha elder Jack Johncock, based in Port Lincoln, told ABC News throwing rocks at Wombats was simply ‘one of many methods’ local Aboriginal people used to kill wombats for food.
It’s easy for people to sit back and judge people. This has been part of our culture and the way we’ve gone about it for thousands of years. For the people of the west coast of South Australia, the wombat is a big part of their diet and they’ll get wombat any way they can.
Under the Native Title Act of 1993, Aboriginal people are allowed to maintain ancient customs such as hunting local wildlife. As such, some have argued the police officer was exercising traditional hunting rights and did nothing wrong.
However, there’s no sign that Johncock was ever intending to consume the animal, with the off-duty police officer heading straight back towards the vehicle after he had killed the wombat.
Furthermore, a prominent fellow Aboriginal leader, Major Summer, told The Advertiser the actions of Johncock were ‘wrong’ and ‘showed no respect for the animal’. Summer, a Ngarrindjeri elder, continued: ‘We didn’t hunt like that. We still don’t hunt like that.’
A police investigation is still underway to determine whether the officer will be punished for his actions.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).