Zachary Rolfe trial: other officer present when Kumanjayi Walker was shot begins evidence

A police officer involved in the attempt to arrest Kumanjayi Walker before his death has told a court he was “surprised” other officers had not used their guns when the Warlpiri man threatened them with an axe during a seperate incident days earlier.

Remote Sgt Adam Eberl was the other officer in the room when Constable Zachary Rolfe shot dead Walker on 9 November 2019 in the remote community of Yuendumu, about 300km from Alice Springs.

On Tuesday, Eberl started his evidence in Rolfe’s murder trial in the Northern Territory supreme court.

He said that on the day of the shooting, when he, Rolfe, and two other officers were preparing to depart Alice Springs, the group watched footage of a previous incident involving Walker which had occurred on 6 November 2019.

During that incident, Walker rushed at two Yuendumu-based officers with a small axe. The court has previously heard this incident was one of several factors that led to the Yuendumu deployment of Rolfe and the other officers from the Immediate Response Team (IRT), which had been trained to arrest dangerous targets.

Eberl said that, after watching the footage, he remarked to the other officers he was surprised the two local police who had been threatened with the axe had not used their firearm. Later in his evidence, he clarified that “I said, ‘Wow, I’m surprised they didn’t use the firearm’.”

Eberl said he was not angry at what had occurred during the axe incident. He could not recall Rolfe making any comment about it, or mentioning what he would do if threatened with a weapon by Walker.

On Tuesday, the court was again shown footage from Eberl’s body-worn camera of the moments immediately before the shooting.

It shows Eberl and Rolfe entering a property known as House 511 at about 7.20pm. Eberl agreed he suspected Walker was inside, because of information police had been given by community members only minutes earlier, but said he and Rolfe had not had any discussion about what they would do if…

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