Zachary Rolfe 'humiliates' Indigenous teen in violent arrest before Walker shooting, inquest says

Video from the camera worn on Rolfe's body shows him approaching a wheeled bin with a 14-year-old hiding inside before slamming the lid and pulling the bin to the ground.

The Northern Territory police officer who shot and killed Kumanjayi Walker was involved in the earlier arrest of another suspected and humiliating Indigenous youth, an inquest has been told.

The investigation into the death of 19-year-old Walker - who was shot during a bungled arrest in Yuendumu in 2019 - played a video on Tuesday of Const Zachary Rolfe detaining a 14-year-old boy.

After running from the police, the boy – wanted for breach of bail – hid in a wheeled bin.

Video from the camera worn on Rolfe's body shows him approaching the trash can and when he sees the boy inside he slams the lid before pulling him to the ground. an "unnecessary act of cruelty" and the way of throwing garbage on the ground is "extremely cruel".

The inquest was notified on Tuesday that the investigation into the incident closed with the finding that there was no excessive use of force. Rolfe received praise for using the video worn on his body.

Nobbs said he was not in a position to comment on all the factors considered during the investigation. But he told the inquest "a prima facie that doesn't look good".

“Alternative options are available in terms of engaging with young people,” he said.

"It's very important in our minds ... to continue to articulate what we're doing and why we're doing it to make sure there's no miscommunication and the flow from that is a potential injury. Based on the narrow lens you provided… it certainly doesn't seem to fit into our training framework.”

Nobbs agreed with counsel assisting the NT coroner that the way the young man was handled while he was detained was "embarrassing".

In other evidence on Tuesday, the inquest was told that Rolfe had been involved in a total of 46 incidents of use of force over a three-year period.

It was told that more senior officers had counseled him over his failure to activate his body-worn camera on several occasions, including one incident in which he turned it off when he began pursuing a suspect.

Acting Senior Sergeant Alistair Gall, who previously described Rolfe as someone who could “get the job done”, said the comments were more about his reliability.

Zachary Rolf

Zachary Rolfe was warned that his fellow officers were 'snakes' and to keep an eye on his back, the inquest heard

“I have identified in Zach Rolfe that he is intelligent, he is a good communicator. If I ask Zach Rolfe to do something, he will do it," Gall told the court.

But he said if he became aware of all incidents of use of force and complaints against officers, it would have an impact on the decision to assign him to the elite emergency response team (IRT).

"If he develops a reputation for using excessive force, I'd be curious about that," Gall said. “That will have an impact on how he is used.”

Rolfe is a four-man IRT sent to Yuendumu to arrest Walker.

After the shooting, he was charged with the murder of the Warlpiri men but was acquitted after the highest court. Examination continues.

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