Zachary Rolfe and NT police team looked like they were 'going to shoot someone': witness

Zachary Rolfe and his team of NT police officers looked like they were "going to shoot someone" when they went to arrest Kumanjayi Walker with visible weapons, a court has been told.

Mr Rolfe, 30, is facing the second day of his murder trial in the Darwin Supreme Court on Tuesday. The charge stems from the shooting death of 19-year-old Yuendumu resident Kumanjayi Walker in November 2019.

Mr Rolfe has pleaded not guilty to murder as well as to two alternative lesser charges.

During his opening address, Crown prosecutor Philip Strickland QC showed jurors footage from body worn cameras on the five members of the NT Police's Immediate Response Team, including Mr Rolfe, on the night he allegedly shot Mr Walker three times in the back during an arrest.

The team was sent to arrest Mr Walker, who had breached a court order by fleeing a residential rehab centre in Alice Springs to go back to Yuendumu for his great uncle's funeral.

Mr Walker was declared dead about an hour later from his injuries.


Referring to the footage, Mr Strickland said a member of the community approached Mr Rolfe's partner, Adam Eberl, and asked why another member of the team was openly carrying a gun without a holster, saying "he's got it like aimed to shoot someone".

"He was probably referring to Hawkings [a team member] who was carrying an assault rilfle," Mr Strickland told the court.

Mr Strickland told the court Officer Eberl replied: "Someone probably shouldn't run at police with an axe, yeah?"

UNDERWAY: Zachary Rolfe leaving the Darwin Supreme Court with a number of supporters on the first day of the trial. Picture: Sarah Matthews

UNDERWAY: Zachary Rolfe leaving the Darwin Supreme Court with a number of supporters on the first day of the trial. Picture: Sarah Matthews

He said the comment was likely a reference to an incident three days earlier where local police attempted to arrest Mr Walker, but fled when he came at them with a small axe.

Mr Strickland also told the court the team did not follow a procedure plan made by local police officers to arrest Mr Walker. This plan involved waiting until the next morning after the funeral was over.

He said the team members were to gather intelligence on Mr Walker's whereabouts that night, but could arrest him if they happened to come across him.

He said the prosecution case was that Mr Rolfe and other members of the team "chose to ignore that operational plan to arrest [Mr Walker] at 5am".

"When they left the police station at 7.06pm they were intent on arresting him that evening," Mr Strickland said.

The group then moved house to house in the desert community of about 800 before arriving at "house 511" at 7.20pm to "clear it".

About a minute later Mr Rolfe fired his first shot after finding Mr Walker inside and attempting to arrest him with another officer, which the teenager struggled against.

It hit Mr Walker in the back but did not kill him and he continued to wrestle with the officers while holding a pair of medical scissors in his right hand.

Mr Strickland said when Mr Rolfe fired two more shots from "point-blank" range 2.6 seconds later, Mr Walker was held down and his right arm was beneath him.

"The situation had changed dramatically," he said.

"The accused stood over Kumanjayi Walker whilst he was pinned down ... and fired again, this time into his left torso.

"About 0.5 seconds after the second shot the accused fired a third time."

The men then handcuffed Mr Walker, who called out for his mother and moaned.

As he did so Mr Rolfe told his partner: "He was stabbing me. He was stabbing you".

Mr Rolfe had a "small puncture wound" to his left shoulder.

Mr Strickland suggested to the jury that Mr Rolfe may have said those words "because he knew he had gone too far".

"He knew the shots were not necessary or reasonable. He knew everything he had done was captured on the body worn video," he said.

"In short he said those words to justify what he'd done."

Mr Walker died at 8.36pm after the officers had moved him to the local police station and "done the best they could" with first aid.

Either the second or third shots "fatally damaged" his spleen, kidney and right lung.

"He intended to kill Kumanjayi Walker, or cause him serious harm," Mr Strickland said of Mr Rolfe.

"There was no legal justification."

About a week before he died, Mr Walker removed an electronic monitoring device and fled an Alice Springs alcohol rehabilitation centre so he could attend a relative's funeral.

He also threatened police in Yuendumu with an axe as he ran from them after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Other officers had spoken to senior community members who told them Mr Walker would hand himself in after the funeral.

Rolfe's lawyer, David Edwardson QC, will now give his opening address for the defence.

More to come

  • with AAP
This story NT police team looked like they were 'going to shoot someone': witness first appeared on Katherine Times.