Australia: Killer NT cop given 'favourable treatment'

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A Northern Territory policeman acquitted of the shooting murder of an Indigenous teenager during a bungled arrest was given special treatment by investigators, an inquest has been told.

Kumanjayi Walker was shot dead during a botched arrest by NT Police officers in a remote community. © PR HANDOUT Kumanjayi Walker was shot dead during a botched arrest by NT Police officers in a remote community.

Constable Zachary Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker, 19, three times as he resisted being handcuffed in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs, on November 9, 2019.

An inquiry into the Warlpiri man's death heard on Tuesday that the police officer in charge of the coronial investigation, Scott Pollock, identified multiple instances of "favourable" treatment.

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He said investigators failed to follow general orders for a death in custody and Const Rolfe was not subjected to standard investigative techniques usual for an alleged major crime.

"He wasn't interviewed as soon as possible, as soon as practical," Mr Pollock, a retired superintendent who continues to be regarded as one of the territory's top investigators, said.

Mr Pollock said Const Rolfe became a murder suspect less that 24 hours after shooting Mr Walker on a Saturday.

Despite this, senior police turned the 31-year-old away when he visited Alice Springs police station seeking to be interviewed the following Sunday and Monday.

Mr Pollock also said Const Rolfe "wandered" about the station on the Monday speaking with other officers.

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The inquest has previously heard such actions risked contaminating Const Rolfe's evidence.

"Mr Pennuto sent him away on several occasions," he said.

"Processes hadn't been put in place. By then he was a suspect."

Mr Pollock was also scathing of the quality of the statement investigators took from the officer who was working with Const Rolfe when he shot Mr Walker.

"It related to his powers of entry. Questions weren't asked around that and it related to his injuries. Questions weren't asked around that," he said.

"They were critical."

Mr Pollock's version of Const Rolfe's treatment contradicts that of Superintendent Kirk Pennuto, who was tasked with taking Const Rolfe into custody four days after he shot Mr Walker.

He told the coroner on Monday he did his job "without fear or favour" and Const Rolfe wasn't given special treatment.

He defended allowing Cont Rolfe to shower before heading to the police station to be charged and could not recall if he was handcuffed.

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He was also unable to say if anyone else charged with murder in the NT had been freed on bail in four hours, as was the case with Const Rolfe.

Mr Pollock told the coroner Const Rolfe's early arrest led to bias against him because his use of force wasn't properly investigated.

Meanwhile, former assistant commissioner Nick Anticich told the coroner an alleged failure to adequately investigate excessive use of force complaints in the lead up to Mr Walker's death amounted to corruption.

"It's an abject failure and it's corrupt. It's wrong and shouldn't have happened," the retired veteran policeman said.

The inquest heard lawyers made repeated complaints to NT Police on behalf of Indigenous clients and they were dismissed as "woke-ism".

"You need to build a police force of integrity, of trust and something the community believes in," Mr Anticich said.

"The police service needs to be able to have the adequate capability to deal with badness in itself."

He said the force required a significant cultural change to combat racist attitudes and it would take time to implement.

"Those text messages and communications we saw were abhorrent," he said.

"It offends me as a police officer to think officers of my profession are involved in such conduct and those people have to go.

"We cannot have them representing the community in a police force that is here to protect the community."

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