Killer Territory agent gets ‘favorable treatment’

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A Northern Territory police officer who was acquitted of the shooting of an Indigenous teenager during a botched arrest has been given special treatment by investigators, an inquest has found.

Constable Zachary Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker, 19, three times as he resisted his handcuffs in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs, on November 9, 2019.

An inquiry into the death of the Warlpiri man heard on Tuesday that the police officer in charge of the corona investigation, Scott Pollock, identified several cases of “favorable” treatment.

He said investigators did not follow general orders for a death in custody and that Const Rolfe was not subjected to standard investigative techniques that are customary for an alleged major crime.

Rolfe was not interviewed as soon as possible

“He was not questioned as soon as possible, as soon as is practical,” said Pollock, a retired detective who is still regarded as one of the area’s top detectives.

Mr Pollock said Const Rolfe became a murder suspect less than 24 hours after shooting Mr Walker on a Saturday.

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Despite this, senior police dismissed the 31-year-old when he visited Alice Springs police station to be interviewed the following Sunday and Monday.

Mr Pollock also said Const Rolfe “wandered” around the station on Monday and spoke to other officers.

Risk of evidence contamination

The inquest has previously learned that such actions could contaminate Const Rolfe’s evidence.

“Mr. Pennuto sent him away several times,” he said.

“No processes had been set up. By then he was a suspect.”

Mr. Pollock was also scathing about the quality of the statement the detectives made from the officer who worked with Const Rolfe when he shot Mr. Walker.

“It had to do with his access privileges. No questions were asked about that and it concerned his injuries. No questions were asked about that,” he said.

“They were critical.”

Kumanjayi Walker was shot dead during a botched arrest by NT police officers in a remote community. Photo: Delivered

Mr Pollock’s version of Const Rolfe’s treatment contradicts that of Chief Inspector Kirk Pennuto, who was tasked with taking Const Rolfe into custody four days after he shot Mr Walker.

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He told the coroner on Monday that he was doing his job “without fear or favour” and that Const Rolfe was not receiving any special treatment.

He defended letting Cont Rolfe shower before going to the police station to be charged and had no recollection of being handcuffed.

Nor could he say whether anyone else charged with murder in the NT had been released on bail within four hours, as was the case with Const Rolfe.

Alleged failure to handle complaints against Rolfe

Mr Pollock told the coroner that the early arrest of Const Rolfe led to a bias against him because his use of force had not been properly investigated.

Meanwhile, former Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich told the coroner that an alleged failure to adequately investigate excessive use of force complaints in the run-up to Mr Walker’s death amounted to corruption.

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“It’s a terrible failure and it’s corrupt. It is wrong and should not have happened,” said the retired veteran police officer.

The inquest heard that lawyers made repeated complaints to NT Police on behalf of Indigenous clients and they were dismissed as “woke-ism”.

“You have to build a police force of integrity, of trust and something that the community believes in,” said Mr Anticich.

Cultural change needed to combat racist attitudes

“The police must be able to have sufficient capacity to deal with badness per se.”

He said the force needed significant cultural change to combat racist attitudes and that it would take time to implement.

“Those text messages and messages we saw were abhorrent,” he said.

“It insults me as a police officer to think that officers of my profession are involved in such behavior and that those people should go.

“We can’t have them representing the community in a police force that is here to protect the community.”

-MONKEY

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