Politics

Zachary Rolfe: Kumanjayi Walker seen confronting cops with an axe before fatal shooting


A court has released footage of the moment an Indigenous man rushed at police armed with an axe three days before he was fatally shot.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned the following article contains images of deceased persons.

A court has released footage of the moment an Indigenous man rushed at two police officers armed with an axe three days before he was fatally shot by a Northern Territory police officer.

It comes after the police officer accused of murdering Warlpiri teenager Kumanjayi Walker during a botched arrest said it was “all good, he was stabbing me” seconds after he fired his gun three times.

On the second day of a marathon murder trial for Constable Zachary Rolfe, who has pleaded not guilty, crown prosecutors said the accused ignored a plan to return the following morning to arrest the teen.

Instead, Constable Rolfe and a colleague entered a home in Yuendumu, a remote community outside Alice Springs, in November 2019 with the intention of arresting Mr Walker.

But within one minute of entering the home a struggle ensued and Constable Rolfe, 30, fired the first of three shots at the teen.

The crown’s case is that the first shot could be justified, but the second, which happened 2.6 seconds after the first, and the third, which happened another 0.5 seconds later, constituted murder.

On Tuesday the jury was played footage from the moment Constable Rolfe and his colleague Constable Adam Eberl arrived in Yuendumu after driving 300km from Alice Springs to arrest the 19-year-old.

During the attempted arrest, Mr Walker stabbed Constable Rolfe in the shoulder with a pair of scissors, causing a small puncture wound.

Prosecutors said Constable Rolfe was standing just one metre from Mr Walker when he fired the first shot. The initial shot did not kill Mr Walker.

He was then wrestled to the ground by Constable Eberl before Constable Rolfe fired the second and third shots, at least one of which was within point-blank range, the court was told.

They struck Mr Walker in the torso and back.

Crown prosecutor Philip Strickland SC earlier said the last two shots would be described as a “double tap” – two shots fired in rapid succession.

He told the court the crown’s case was that Constable Rolfe had intended to kill Mr Walker with the third shot or at least cause serious harm.

“When (the) accused fired (the) first shot he was defending himself. The situation had changed dramatically from the first shot (when he fired the second and third),’ Mr Strickland said.

By the time Constable Rolfe fired the second and third shots, “Eberl had (Walker) under control”, the court was told

“There was no legal justification for his actions,” Mr Strickland told the court.

Bodycam vision also captured the moments after the shooting when Constable Eberl told Mr Walker not to “f**k around” and that he would “f**king smash you mate.”

Constable Rolfe could also be heard saying: “It’s all good. He was stabbing me, he was stabbing me.”

In his opening submissions, Constable Rolfe’s barrister David Edwardson QC said the accused was “acting in good faith” for the safety of himself and his colleague.

“Edged weapon equals gun,” he said.

“He responded in a way in which he was trained.”

Constable Rolfe has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder and to alternative charges of manslaughter and a violent act causing death.

The court was told that at the time of his arrest Mr Walker was wanted for breaching a court order. He had removed an electronic monitoring device and attended a funeral in Yuendumu when he was supposed to be staying in Alice Springs.

The jury was also told of how Mr Walker pulled an axe on officers who had tried to arrest him three days before the fatal incident.

Police received a warrant for his arrest.

If found guilty by a jury, Constable Rolfe faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

A jury was empanelled at the Supreme Court in Darwin on Monday morning ahead of what is expected to be a four-week trial before Justice John Burns.



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