NT Police deny special treatment for Rolfe

The Northern Territory police officer charged over the shooting death of an Indigenous teenager was not given special treatment during his arrest, an inquest has been told.

The inquiry into the death of Kumanjayi Walker has taken evidence from Superintendent Kirk Pennuto, who took Constable Zachary Rolfe into custody in the days after the shooting in November 2019.

Supt Pennuto said while the arrest of a fellow officer presented some obvious challenges, "I do my job without fear or favour".

He told the inquest on Monday that the investigation of the shooting was not biased in favour or against Const Rolfe, nor had he received any pressure from more senior officers to act and bring charges.

Supt Pennuto defended allowing Cont Rolfe to shower before heading to the police station on the day he was detained, saying he had done things very similar on a number of occasions during his long police career.

"Over 30 years, I've yet to receive a complaint for not having treated someone with respect and dignity," he told the inquiry in Alice Springs.

"In this particular case, Mr Rolfe had no forensic value at that point in time and he was hot and sweaty and not properly dressed.

"There was nothing lost by allowing him to do it (shower) and treating him with dignity.

"So I don't accept that I've treated him in any special way."

Supt Pennuto told Coroner Elisabeth Armitage he could not recall if Const Rolfe was handcuffed at any stage or if the 31-year-old was placed in a cell at Alice Springs during the process, which would be normal procedure.

Nor could he remember someone charged with murder being freed on bail in four hours, as was the case with Const Rolfe.

But asked if he could understand community concerns at the ease at which the officer was released compared to the experiences of Indigenous people, he said the "question requires me to speculate a little".

"The police involvement in the process was as it would always have been," Supt Pennuto said.

"We opposed bail in the watch house. He was refused police bail and then we subsequently had an out-of-session hearing with the on-call judge.

"So I'm not sure that's a particularly strong police issue. I think that's a matter for the judge who considered the application."

Supt Pennuto said after being placed in charge of the investigation into Mr Walker's death, he first became concerned about Const Rolfe's actions after watching body-worn camera footage of the shooting.

It was at that point that he believed Const Rolfe might be considered a suspect in a crime and not just a witness.

Amid those concerns, he delayed an interview with Const Rolfe to take his version of events and after taking advice from prosecutors indicated that any such interview would proceed under caution.

In those circumstances, Const Rolfe declined to be interviewed, as was his right.

He subsequently went on trial for murder but was acquitted on all charges.

Supt Pennuto said while he would do some things differently and had learned some lessons, he did not consider the case to be a failed investigation.

"A successful criminal investigation, in my view, is not judged solely by whether or not you achieve a conviction in court," he said.

"Ultimately it becomes a jury decision based on the evidence you collect."

The death of Mr Walker occurred after a bungled arrest attempt at a home in Yuendumu, an Aboriginal community 290km northwest of Alice Springs.

The 19-year-old Warlpiri man was shot three times and died while receiving first aid at the local police station.