A Northern Territory police officer has been sacked over his role in printing and trying to sell clothing deemed “disgraceful”, referring to the fatal police shooting in Yuendumu of Indigenous 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker.
The 61-year-old was suspended in early April when an image of a singlet with the slogan “Don’t wanna get shot … Don’t stab a cop! … #BlueLivesMatter” was shared widely over social media.
NT Indigenous man David Cole shared it and told National Indigenous TV at the time that the image “exacerbates the trauma we feel when dealing with police”.
NT Police Constable Zachary Rolfe, 28, was charged with one count of murder over the shooting last November but intends to plead not guilty.
His defence is expected to allege he had responded to Walker acting violently against him and trying to stab his partner when they tried to arrest him in the remote community in central Australia.
The issue has been a divisive, emotive one in the Territory with many police officers supportive of Constable Rolfe.
It prompted protests around Australia over the treatment of Aboriginal people by police and deaths in custody.
Another protest is planned in Darwin this week, prompted by the Blacks Lives Matter global action over the death of African-American man George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis.
Northern Territory Police said in a statement on Wednesday a 61-year-old male police officer had been dismissed from the force.
“The officer had been suspended from duty without pay in April for serious breaches of discipline pursuant to the Police Administration Act 1978.”
He was originally suspended after the NT Police Professional Standards Command found he was “allegedly responsible for the production and distribution of clothing that displayed highly inappropriate content”.
In a statement at the time NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker condemned the “highly inappropriate content”.
“[The Commissioner] offers his sincere apology to the community for the actions of the individual or individuals who have created the material that has appeared.”
Assistant Commissioner Michael White said at the time “the actions of the officer were disgraceful”.
“For a serving officer to be involved in this behaviour brings disrepute to the entire police force and this behaviour is unacceptable.
“I reiterate the Commissioner’s apology to the community for the conduct of this member.”