Court shown body-cam footage of attempted arrest of Kumanjayi Walker

Michael Weaver 8 April 2021
Zach Rolfe

Canberra-born Zach Rolfe with his bravery award from last year. Photo: File.

The fate of Canberra-born Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe is in limbo after a committal hearing that will decide whether a murder charge against him goes to trial in the Supreme Court was adjourned for final submissions.

Constable Rolfe, 28, faces one count of murder over the death of Kumanjayi Walker in the remote community of Yuendumu, west of Alice Springs on 9 November last year.

Constable Rolfe was a member of the Alice Springs-based Immediate Response Team which was called to Yuendumu to assist with the arrest of Mr Walker.

A three-day committal hearing in Alice Springs finished early on Thursday afternoon (3 September) after several medical witnesses were dismissed before giving evidence.

Constable Rolfe, who joined the Northern Territory Police after graduating from Canberra Grammar School and later serving as an officer in the Australian Army, remains on bail in Canberra while suspended with pay from NT Police.

He has been appearing at the committal hearing at the Alice Springs Local Court via video link in Canberra.

During the hearing so far, the ABC in Alice Springs has reported that the court was shown footage of Mr Walker running at police with an axe in the days before he was fatally shot.

The court heard three shots were fired on the night Mr Walker was killed.

Those giving evidence have included a criminologist and sociologist from the United States who told the court he believed the second and third shots fired at Mr Walker were “unnecessary”.

The court also heard that Constable Rolfe had been stabbed with scissors by Mr Walker before the first shot was fired at point-blank range.

Giving evidence about the body-camera footage of the attempted arrest, Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Barram from the NT Police Professional Standards Command told the court he believed that after Mr Walker had been shot once and taken to the ground, his right arm, which was gripping a pair of scissors, was pinned underneath his body.

However, during cross-examination Sergeant Barram conceded that Mr Walker’s forearm was out of the camera’s view, but he said there was nowhere else Mr Walker’s arm could be.

Lawyers defending Constable Rolfe have indicated that he will plead not guilty and will push for a no case before Judge John Birch decides after 25 September if there is enough evidence for Constable Rolfe to be put on trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

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