• Protesters gathered in Alice Springs today to stand with the Warlpiri community. (NITV)Source: NITV
Up to a thousand gathered in Alice Springs today to stand in solidarity with the Warlpiri community, following the fatal shooting of Kumanjayi Walker.
By
Shahni Wellington

Source:
NITV News
14 Nov 2019 - 5:23 PM  UPDATED 14 Nov 2019 - 5:23 PM

Up to a thousand gathered in Alice Springs to stand in solidarity with the Warlpiri community on Thursday in the wake of the fatal shooting of Kumanjayi Walker.

Local Arrernte Elders welcomed the Yuendumu community, speaking in language and pledging their support before marching in numbers through the city centre.

Senior Warlpiri man, Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves, spoke to NITV News at the march and said the outpouring of support had been overwhelming. 

"We're here today and it almost makes me cry," he said.

"All these people here today, helping us and supporting us. We are all one, the power of one."

Kumanjayi Walker, 19, died on Saturday after being shot by police in the central desert community of Yuendumu, located around 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.

On Wednesday night, a NT police officer was charged with one count of murder over the death, but was later released on bail with full pay following an out-of-session local court hearing.

Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves said hearing the news of the murder charge overnight was bittersweet.

"For a while I was happy, but then I was upset because they bailed him out.

"We're not happy for that and we don't agree with that... That's not right," said Mr Hargreaves.

Rallies have taken place across the country in all major cities, calling for justice and an independent investigation of the incident.

Police officer to plead not guilty

The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) said the officer will plead not guilty to the murder of Mr Walker.

In a statement, the NTPA describes the alleged shooter as a "decorated member" of the police force. 

President of the NTPA, Paul McCue, said the officer will contest the charge.

"Whilst we acknowledge the tragic circumstances of the event, the member has made it clear that he will plead not guilty and will vigorously contest the charge," said Mr McCue.

"He like all has the presumption of innocence in his favour."

The 28-year-old is to appear in Alice Springs court on December 19.

An investigation is on-going on behalf of the Major Crime Squad, Northern Territory ICAC, Ombudsman and the Coroner.

 "Virtually all white juries" - Legal expert says

While a charge has been officially made, legal experts have said a long legal process lies ahead.

It is only the second time a murder charge has been laid before a coronial inquest into a death in custody. 

Sydney based Human Rights Lawyer Stuart Levitt said it’s a “positive development” that the police are holding their own to account.

“That hasn't happened for a long time in the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia,” Mr Levitt told NITV News.

“It shows how important it is that the eyes of the world are now on the Northern Territory, to keep the bastards honest as it were."

Associate Law Professor at the University of Sydney, Thalia Anthony, expressed concern about the location for the hearing.

“It will be in Alice Springs, the matter is likely to be heard where there are virtually all white juries, less than 1% of jurors are Aboriginal,” said Ms Anthony.

“So we won't be seeing, unfortunately, an Aboriginal person, it's very unlikely to be determining the case. And so it does shift the scales."

NT police officer charged with murder over Kumanjayi Walker’s shooting
UPDATE: A Northern Territory policeman has been charged with one count of murder over the shooting of Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker and released on bail after an out-of-session local court hearing.