The community of a slain Indigenous teenager has called for retrial after the Northern Territory policeman who fatally shot him was acquitted of murder.
Constable Zachary Rolfe, 30, denied intentionally killing Kumanjayi Walker after the 19-year-old stabbed him with a pair of scissors on November 9, 2019.
Const Rolfe fired three shots into the teen’s back and torso as he resisted arrest in Yuendumu, 290 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs.
A Supreme Court jury in Darwin in March found him not guilty of murder, manslaughter and violent act causing death after a five-week trial heard evidence from about 40 witnesses.
The decision ignited grief and anger in the Walpiri community, with activists decrying the trial as unfair and the justice system racist.
Fast forward several months, the remote community has called for Const Rolfe to be retried in Alice Springs.
They also want him to face customary law in Yuendumu and an independent investigation to probe the court processes, including the decision to grant an accused murderer bail and the jury selection that led to one member declaring links to a police force but remaining empanelled.
Walpiri Elders are also demanding police no longer carry guns in remote NT communities and for the department to be defunded and the money redirected to local alternatives, like mediation and night patrols.
“The way NT police have engaged our community is racist, violent and disrespectful of our authority,” the community said in a statement.
Traditional owners also want allegedly discriminatory measures introduced following the 2007 intervention to be rolled back, including special police powers, compulsory income management and prohibition of consideration of customary law and others.
“We are calling for a National Day of Action on June 18 to demand justice for Walker,” the community said.
“We are grieving this injustice, and the injustice of Rolfe’s acquittal.”
The community also called out some media outlets, saying they had put Mr Walker on trial “through defamation, racialised stereotyping and blatant lies” and not Const Rolfe.
“Many outlets produced very racist reports. We want to be able to correct the lies they have told,” the statement said.
“Racist media propels racist violence in the streets and our people suffer. Racism in the media causes our people pain.”
The NT’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption is currently investigating allegations of political interference allegedly linked to the decision to charge Const Rolfe and the processes surrounding the investigation into the officer.
A coronial inquest into Mr Walker’s death is scheduled for September 5 this year.
NT Police Minister Nicole Manison on Thursday announced $510 million in funding for the territory’s police force in the 2022/23 NT budget, which will be released on Tuesday.
That’s $6.4 million more than last year’s police budget.
- Story by Aaron Bunch, AAP