Police Officer Found Not Guilty After Fatally Shooting Indigenous Teen In Northern Territory

Zachary Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker three times in 2019.

Kumanjayi Walker

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Constable Zachary Rolfe will walk free after the jury found him not guilty of all charges in the murder trial of Indigenous teenager Kumanjayi Walker.

The high-profile Northern Territory case commenced in February after Rolfe fatally shot the 19-year-old Warlpiri man three times during an attempted arrest in remote community Yuendumu in November 2019. Rolfe was charged with murder, with two additional charges of manslaughter and engaging in conduct involving a violent act causing death.

The court heard during the almost five-week trial that Kumanjayi Walker had stabbed the now 30-year-old in the shoulder before the gun was first fired. Rolfe proceeded to then shoot a second bullet 2.6 seconds later, and the third 0.5 seconds after that, from close range, while Walker was restrained by Rolfe’s partner Adam Eberl.

Justice John Burns said in his summary on Thursday that the jury “must not let your emotion or sympathy affect your verdicts”, while the defence said that Rolfe was acting on good faith to defend himself and Sergeant Eberl.

Prosecutor Philip Strickland SC said in his closing address that Rolfe’s “sole mission” was to track down the teenager after he became “preoccupied” with a video of him threatening to hurt other police officers with an axe, as reported by The New Daily. His team argued that the second and third shots were not legally justified, and the first shot fired by Rolfe were not part of the three charges levelled against him.

To this day, no police officer has ever been convicted for an Indigenous death in custody in Australia.

Photo Credit: Justice For Walker/Instagram