Walker inquest proceeds after police tactics questioned

Zach Rolfe will give evidence to an inquest into the death of an Indigenous teen he shot dead.

Zach Rolfe will give evidence to an inquest into the death of an Indigenous teen he shot dead. Photo: AAP

A senior police officer has returned to the stand for a fifth day to give evidence at a coronial inquest into the death of Indigenous teen Kumanjayi Walker.

NT Deputy Police Commissioner Murray Smalpage returned to the stand for further questioning at the Alice Springs inquest, with Assistant Commissioner Bruce Porter to follow.

Mr Smalpage defended the “militarisation” of the NT police force and its heavy reliance on guns on Thursday.

He said he could see how people perceived a unit like Rolfe’s as military-like.

He also said he knew communities “would much prefer we didn’t carry firearms,” but guns were essential to the police force.

The inquest also heard admissions by a police officer controversial text messages that may have influenced Constable Zachary Rolfe’s defence to a murder charge were not meant for him.

Const Rolfe fatally shot Mr Walker, 19, three times as he resisted arrest in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs, on November 9, 2019.

Afterwards, Const Rolfe received text messages telling him to justify his intent as self-defence against “the s— c— (who) was telling him that he was going to stab the police”.

But Sergeant Ian Nankivell, who wrote the messages, told the inquest into the fatal shooting he “emphatically denied” that the messages were for Const Rolfe.

Patrick Coleridge, counsel assisting the coroner, suggested the text messages could be seen as a template for justifying Const Rolfe’s shooting of Mr Walker.

Const Rolfe had been sent to apprehend the teen with four other police members as part of a special police unit.

He was found not guilty by a Supreme Court jury of Mr Walker’s murder.

The inquest in Alice Springs continues, with other members of the NT Police Force and Territory Families expected to give evidence over the next two weeks.


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