News NT Police officer Zachary Rolfe to stand trial for shooting death of Kumanjayi Walker
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NT Police officer Zachary Rolfe to stand trial for shooting death of Kumanjayi Walker

NT police
Constable Zachary Rolfe will stand trial for the alleged murder of Kumanjayi Walker Photo: ABC News: Grenville Turner
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The Northern Territory police officer charged over the shooting death of teenager Kumanjayi Walker last year has been committed to stand trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

Constable Zachary Rolfe was charged with murder after the teen was fatally shot during an arrest attempt in the remote community of Yuendumu in November 2019.

Alice Springs Local Court Judge John Birch handed down his decision on Monday after a three-day committal hearing last month.

He also issued a suppression order preventing publication of his reasons for committing the case to trial.

During the three-day committal hearing, the court heard Mr Walker was shot three times on the night he died.

The fatal shooting followed an earlier attempt to arrest Mr Walker, the court heard.

Officers from the Immediate Response Team (IRT), which included Constable Rolfe, were later sent to Yuendumu to arrest the 19-year-old.

According to evidence heard during the committal, Mr Walker stabbed Constable Rolfe with a pair of scissors during the November 9 arrest attempt.

A criminologist gave evidence that two of the three shots Constable Rolfe then fired at Mr Walker were “excessive, unreasonable and unnecessary”.

In a final attempt to have the case thrown out last month, lawyers for Mr Rolfe argued the police officer was acting in self-defence when he fired the three shots.

“There is not a single piece of evidence the prosecution have produced in this case that suggests that Zachary Rolfe did anything other than comply wholeheartedly with the very training the NT police gave him,” defence barrister David Edwardson QC told the hearing.

But prosecutors argued the IRT had “disregarded” an arrest plan by Sergeant Julie Frost from the Yuendumu police station.

“There was a careful plan put in place by Julie Frost which involved the deceased being arrested whilst he was asleep at five in the morning,” prosecutor Philip Strickland SC told the hearing.

“All those things were planned to control the environment better.

“[But] he has put himself in the position where his tactical options were limited, because of a failure to follow that plan.”

A small crowd made up of Mr Walker’s family and Yuendumu community members gathered outside the Alice Springs Local Court ahead of Monday’s ruling.

Community members gave speeches, with one person telling the crowd: “This is what we needed.”

Cheers and cries of “justice for Walker” could be heard as the decision was handed down.

Constable Rolfe appeared in court via video link from Canberra, where he is on bail.

He has been suspended from the police force with pay.

His bail has been extended until his next court appearance on November 25, when he will face the Supreme Court for the first time.

It is expected he will appear from Canberra on that date.

-ABC