Court shown ‘confronting’ footage from Yuendumu police shooting

Footage from the moments leading up to the alleged murder of an Aboriginal teenager by a Northern Territory Police officer has been shown to a court for the first time.

WARNING: This article contains an image of Mr Walker used with the permission of his family.

Constable Zachary Rolfe was charged with one count of murder over the death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker in the remote community of Yuendumu in November last year.

Constable Rolfe is facing a four-day committal hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence for him to be tried in the Supreme Court.

The judge warned those present on the second day that body-worn camera footage of the shooting may contain “confronting” images.

The court heard Constable Rolfe and other members of the Immediate Response Team (IRT) had been sent to Yuendumu to arrest Kumanjayi Walker.

In one video, after Constable Rolfe and fellow officer Adam Eberl enter a house to arrest Mr Walker, a community member can be heard asking about the rifle being carried by a member of the IRT who was outside the house.

“We’re not aiming to shoot anyone,” an officer can be heard saying. 

In the footage, which was not released to the public, yelling can be heard as the officers attempt to arrest Kumanjayi Walker.

The court heard Mr Walker “deployed” a pair of scissors and was shot once, before Sergeant Eberl took him to the ground and attempted to roll him over and secure his right arm, which he was gripping the weapon with.

A close up photo of Constable Zachary Rolfe smiling while he stands outside in Alice Springs.
Constable Zachary Rolfe is charged with one count of murder.(ABC News: Grenville Turner)

It is alleged he was then shot a further two times by Constable Zachary Rolfe.

“At that stage, three shots had been fired and [Kumanjayi Walker] is saying ‘I’m going to kill you mob’,” suggested defence barrister David Edwardson QC.

“Correct,” Sergeant Eberl said.  

Under cross-examination, Sergeant Eberl agreed Kumanjayi Walker was “still resisting” after he’d been shot three times

Glock placed ‘into’ torso, court hears

Earlier in the day, the court heard evidence that Constable Rolfe fired two shots at close range.

Constable First Class Anthony Hawkings told the court he was stationed outside the house when he heard the first gunshot.

The court heard Constable Hawkings then turned his head and saw a man on the ground inside the house.

His bodycam — which was also played to the court — did not record the event, as Constable Hawkings’ body was turned in another direction.

Part of his police statement was read, in which Constable Hawkings said: “I saw Constable Rolfe place his Glock into … the torso or the right torso [of the man].”

He was further questioned about the range under cross-examination by Defence Barrister David Edwardson QC.

A selfie photo of Mr Walker taken from Facebook.
Kumanjayi Walker died after being shot in Yuendumu in November 2019.(Supplied: Facebook)

“I know it was very close, I think in my statement I may have mentioned point-blank or touching, but it was the angle that I was looking at… I couldn’t give you a distance of the end of the barrel versus the point of contact,” he said.

Constable Hawkings told the court he had heard both officers inside the house yelling, “let go of the scissors” or, “drop the scissors.”

Body-worn cameras ‘fell off’

The court heard Constable Rolfe and Sergeant Eberl’s body-worn cameras “fell off” during the botched arrest attempt.

“Both of ours fell off… All I know is afterwards I picked one up off the ground,” Sergeant Eberl said.

The court also heard from three IRT members who were called as witnesses.

They rejected evidence heard on the first day of the committal hearing which suggested a detailed plan to arrest Mr Walker had been developed by local Yuendumu police officers and shared with the IRT members.

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