Inquest told of shooting payback fears

·2-min read

A Yuendumu police sergeant has described his fears of payback after the shooting of Indigenous teenager Kumanjayi Walker, including concerns the police station may have been stormed.

Giving evidence at the inquest into the death of the teenager in 2019, Christopher Hand said he had fears of a mob potentially driving into the building and going after guns.

He agreed such a response was not part of traditional Aboriginal payback but said police had to be mindful that some in the remote Northern Territory community may have wanted to take action.

Before long rocks were being thrown onto the station roof.

Rocks were also thrown at an ambulance and a police vehicle, the inquest was told.

Sgt Hand said decisions had to be made about what action would be taken, not to protect property, but the lives of those inside.

"But also to protect the lives of the people that were outside the police station and were obviously upset and angry," he said.

"If that (the building being stormed) were to happen it would have been a no-win situation for any individual on that night."

With reports also of a local fire, Sgt Hand said there were concerns about what might come next.

"Could we go from rocks to bricks and any other weapons," he said.

"The fear was that it was going to escalate from just rock throwing to a bit more than that."

The inquest in Alice Springs is exploring 54 issues related to the life of Mr Walker, 19, and the actions of police before and after he was killed.

The Warlpiri man died after Constable Zachary Rolfe shot him three times during an arrest attempt in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs.

Const Rolfe was later charged with murder but acquitted of all charges after a Supreme Court trial.

In other evidence on Tuesday, Sgt Hand offered a vigorous defence of officers carrying guns in the remote community, telling the inquiry he found suggestions they be disarmed "incredible".

While he understood and appreciated that some people in Yuendumu held the view that police should not carry side arms, he believed they needed guns to protect themselves and other members of the public.

He said they also acted as a deterrent to potential offenders.

"Everyone has views about policing and how police do things," he said.

"But for any community, whether it's an Indigenous community, or an urban community or a small town in country South Australia, to suggest that police shouldn't be armed with a side arm, I find that incredible."

The inquest will resume on Wednesday.