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Mental health plea after WA woman killed by police in Geraldton

Ms Clarke, who had only recently been released from prison and was being managed under the Mental Health Act, died in hospital and leaves behind a seven-year-old son.

Her family has demanded to know why a Taser was not used instead of a gun.

Ms Clarke’s adoptive mother Anne Jones, who took care of her from the age of five months, said she felt numb but appreciated community support.

The family participated in a rally of about 500 people demanding justice for Ms Clarke and calling for acute mental health facilities.

Supporters waved Aboriginal flags and held signs, including one that read: “We’re here to be heard for our lost loved ones. We’ll fight for what they deserve: Justice.”

The rally was mostly peaceful and respectful, except for a minor scuffle involving a man who appeared to try to grab a megaphone.

A liquor restriction remains in place “due to high emotions”, which has further outraged some people.

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said it was a community safety decision.

Indigenous senator Pat Dodson issued a statement echoing concerns about the use of lethal force.

He urged people to stay calm and not “engage in any provocative or retaliatory behaviour”.

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project coordinator Gerry Georgatos said police needed better training to de-escalate situations involving people struggling with mental health.

Mr Dawson told reporters police had been responding that evening to two calls about a person armed with a knife.

He said there was “verbal communication” between officers and Ms Clarke before one round was fired.

Mr Dawson said there were more than 20 witnesses and 14 had so far provided statements saying Ms Clarke had a knife.

“We have a knife in our possession,” he said.

But the commissioner did not want to speculate or draw conclusions too early.

“There will not be any cover up or skimming over facts,” he said.

“This is traumatic for all parties involved.

“This is a very raw, emotional and grieving time.”

No body cameras were worn by the eight officers at the scene, as they are yet to be rolled out in the region, but Mr Dawson has directed it begin next month.

Mr Dawson said he could not comment on why alternative force, such as a Taser or pepper spray, was not used.

“Each officer must exercise their individual judgment, almost always under difficult and urgent decision-making circumstances,” he said.

“No police officer doing their duty wants to fire their weapon or take another person’s life.”

Mr Dawson said the community had been respectful and urged them to remain calm until all of the investigations were completed.

The constable who shot Ms Clarke is on leave.

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