The long-awaited proceedings will continue for four days, with Judge John Birch to decide if there is enough evidence for the police officer to be committed to stand trial for murder in the Supreme Court.
By
Rachael Hocking

Source:
NITV News
1 Sep 2020 - 9:32 PM  UPDATED 9 Sep 2020 - 2:03 PM

The four day committal hearing for the police officer charged with the alleged murder of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker began in Alice Springs today. 

Mr Walker was fatally shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe at his home in Yuendumu, around 300km north-west of Alice Springs in the evening of November 9 last year. 

Home-made banners in the colours of the Aboriginal flag declaring Justice for Walker decorated the Alice Springs Local Court lawns, where community from the central desert region gathered peacefully during proceedings. 

Inside the court, body-worn camera footage of a separate incident that took place days before Mr Walker died was played.

NITV News has been unable to view the footage.

Adam Donaldson, a police dog handler who was in Yuendumu on the day of Mr Walker's death, gave evidence that he had viewed footage of the incident.

Under questioning, Mr Donaldson stated that police training required officers to produce their firearm when confronted with an edged weapon, but that it didn't necessitate an officer firing their weapon.

"You presented your weapon as a response," he told the court.

"That was the level of response in your use of force to being confronted with an edged weapon, is that your firearm is your response."

Plan to arrest Mr Walker interrogated

Further questioning in the morning session related to the plan to arrest Kumanjayi Walker on the weekend of November 9, with details provided by head of Yuendumu Police Station at the time Sergeant Julie Frost.

Mr Donaldson and the Immediate Response Team (IRT) - made up of Mr Rolfe and three other officers - were called to the community to assist with Mr Walker's arrest following the "axe incident" earlier in the week. 

The arrest was originally intended for the Sunday morning of November 10, around 530am. Members of the IRT were informed, however, that if they came across Mr Walker earlier they could arrest him. 

In her evidence, Sergeant Frost said early morning arrests were made in the interests of community safety.

"Generally it’s a safer time to make a high risk arrest," she said.

"We also know where the person is going to put their heads at night. There’s a lot less people affected by alcohol and drugs. And there’s no – no interference from neighbours or anything like that."

Sergeant Frost said that due to a funeral in community that weekend, they had conveyed to Mr Walker's grandparents they were prepared for him to surrender to the police station after attending the funeral and a memorial concert in Yuendumu. 

"He wasn’t a danger to the community... I was going to allow him to go to the funeral and the memorial concert prior to – and then I was expecting that he – the negotiation was that he would then present himself to the police station," Sergeant Frost recalled. 

Under cross-examination by defence counsel David Edwardson QC, Sergeant Frost said she had "no intelligence" Mr Walker was involved in break-ins at the nurses residences at an earlier date, but that his involvement was a "possibility".  

Further questioning in the afternoon involved officer Breanna Bonney.

'We are here for one thing'

There was no video-link of court proceedings from Alice Springs to Yuendumu on Tuesday, because very few people were in the community, according to court officials. 

Inside court, limited seating was made available for family members and some journalists, due to coronavirus restrictions. 

Many community members travelled to Alice Springs for the committal hearing, gathering outside court where a free BBQ was held and speeches were made. 

Senior Yuendumu Elder Robin Japanangka Granites called for self-determination and a return to yapa [Aboriginal] governance, inviting kardiya [non-Indigenous people] to talk with them.

"We need to go through this system of justice," he said. 

"We are here for one thing: for justice for Walker. For all of us yapa [Aboriginal people]." 

Senior Warlpiri woman Valerie Martin expressed her frustration with the western justice system, but called for patience. 

"It's really hard. Kardiya [whitefella] system is really hard," she said. 

"This system, we gotta go step by step for justice... We gotta go step by step to reach that Supreme Court 

"Our family gotta stick together and be together as one." 

Yuendumu community renews calls for justice on eve of committal hearing
Almost ten months after he was fatally shot in a remote central desert community, Kumanjayi Walker's family will find out whether the police officer charged with murder will be put on trial in the Supreme Court.