News Jury told murder-accused cop Zachary Rolfe ‘intended to kill teen’

Jury told murder-accused cop Zachary Rolfe ‘intended to kill teen’

Zachary Rolfe
The prosecutor says the ‘sole mission’’ of ‘Constable Zachary Rolfe was to track down the Indigenous teenager. Photo: AAP
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A murder-accused policeman who fatally shot Kumanjayi Walker intended to kill or seriously harm the Aboriginal teenager when he shot him three times during a failed arrest, a jury has been told.

Constable Zachary Rolfe, 30, has denied murdering Mr Walker as the 19-year-old resisted arrest in Yuendumu, 290 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs on November 9, 2019.

But prosecutor Philip Strickland SC said the policeman’s “sole mission” was to track down the 19-year-old after he became “preoccupied” with a video of the teen violently threatening other officers with an axe.

He reminded the jury Constable Rolfe had given evidence that he knew shooting Mr Walker from point-blank range was “likely to cause death or serious harm”.

“You can conclude that that was his intention. To kill or cause serious harm,” Mr Strickland said in his closing address to the Northern Territory Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“He knew that what he calls the centre of seen mass included his lungs and his heart.”

Kumanjayi Walker died after a policeman shot him three times. Photo: AAP

Mr Strickland also reminded the jury of the evidence during the four-week trial, including that he believed Constable Rolfe had lied under oath about seeing Mr Walker stab his partner Sergeant Adam Eberl, then a constable, and that he feared for his life when he fired shots two and three.

“The Crown case is that the evidence that the accused gave in court, that he did have those beliefs, was a lie, and the accused lied to justify the unjustifiable – namely the fatal shooting of Kumanjayi Walker,” he said.

“The accused did not believe that Eberl was at risk of death or serious injury.”

Mr Strickland said Constable Rolfe also did not hold an “honest belief” he needed to fire the second and third shots to protect himself, or that they were a reasonable response.

He said Sergeant Eberl was on top of Mr Walker and had “effectively restrained” him when the fatal second shot was fired.

The jury has heard that Constable Rolfe pulled the trigger after the teen had lied about his identity and stabbed the constable in the shoulder with a pair of scissors.

The Crown concedes the first shot, fired while Mr Walker was standing and wrestling with Sergeant Eberl, was justified.

But it says the second and third shots into the teen’s torso, which are the subject of the murder charge, as he struggled against Sergeant Eberl on the ground went “too far”.

Mr Strickland reminded the jury that Constable Rolfe had repeatedly viewed video of the so-called “axe incident” on November 6 and that he wanted to be involved in tracking down the teen.

He also highlighted the constable’s attempts to join the NT police force’s elite tactical response group and the Australian Army’s commando and special air service regiments, saying Constable Rolfe’s career aspirations showed “an obvious desire to become involved in direct action”.

“We say there was a lot of evidence to prove that when he left, when the accused left Yuendumu Police Station, at 7.06pm, his sole mission and preoccupation was to track down Kumanjayi Walker,” Mr Strickland said.

“All of those matters, we say, are evidence of a particular state of mind.

“They are all evidence of a mentality that the accused had at that time and that mentality was that if Kumanjayi Walker showed any resistance, if he presented with an edged weapon, then he would be prepared to draw his weapon and if necessary fire it at Kumanjayi Walker.”

Mr Strickland told the jury if it believed Constable Rolfe did not intend to kill Mr Walker that it could find him guilty of the alternative charges of manslaughter or violent act causing death.

He said Constable Rolfe had admitted engaging in conduct that had caused death and it was reckless or negligent.

The closing address continues on Wednesday.