Family still pained by Kumanjayi Walker's death

Kumanjayi Walker's family have told an inquest into his death the teenager is still much loved and missed.

The 19-year-old Warlpiri Luritja teenager was fatally shot by then-constable Zachary Rolfe in the remote community of Yuendumu in 2019, during an attempted arrest.

Mr Rolfe was acquitted of murder during a five-week trial in 2022 and he is no longer serving as a police officer in the Northern Territory.

Zachary Rolfe (file image)
Zachary Rolfe was acquitted of murder and is no longer serving as a police officer. (Aaron Bunch/AAP PHOTOS)

In videos played to the Alice Springs court on Wednesday, Mr Walker's family described the pain they have felt since his death.

"We are still sad, we are still thinking about him," his grandmother Alice Walker-Nelson said.

"This Yuendumu was upside down. We wouldn't think about anything, just crying.

"We didn't know what to do."

Mr Walker's aunt Serita Lane said on the night of his death she went to Alice Springs Hospital, after being told he might have been flown there for treatment.

She said she didn't know he had already died when she arrived.

When Ms Lane got the call from family that he'd passed, she said she fell to the floor, crying.

"We didn't have a chance to say goodbye to him," she said.

"I was really in pain and sorry and crying ... Inside my heart is still crying."

Commissioner Michael Murphy (file image)
Commissioner Michael Murphy told the inquest he had been made aware of racist awards last August. (Neve Brissenden/AAP PHOTOS)

NT Police commissioner Michael Murphy was probed on the culture within the force during his evidence to the inquest on Wednesday morning, admitting he knew about racist award certificates handed out to tactical group officers months before they were revealed at the inquest.

Mr Murphy said he had first been made aware of the awards in August 2023.

He told reporters in February 2024 he did not know about the racist awards, following evidence from Mr Rolfe mentioning the certificates.

In questioning from counsel assisting Peggy Dwyer Mr Murphy agreed it was the case that his answer was misleading but he had not intended it to be so.

He told the inquest he had "regrettably" not taken action when the certificates were first brought to his attention.

Dr Dwyer went on to ask the commissioner about the response he gave in the same press conference, saying he had not seen racist conduct in the police force.

"It is effectively gaslighting members of the Aboriginal community who have experienced racism and complained about it when you deny that there is any racism in the NT Police Force, do you accept that?" Dr Dwyer said.

"Yes I do, and we're taking steps to address that," Mr Murphy replied.

Certificate tendered to the inquest (file image)
Mr Murphy said he had "regrettably" not taken action when he knew about the certificates. (HANDOUT/NT CORONER'S COURT)

The commissioner also told the inquest if given the opportunity again he would not overturn a disciplinary action against a sergeant who shared an explicit photo of an Aboriginal woman to a group chat with other officers  in Alice Springs.

The officer had been demoted and transferred to Katherine by the Professional Standards Command following the incident in 2022.

Mr Murphy said he had been contacted by the NT Police Association to review the decision. He reversed the demotion and moved the officer to Darwin.

"Reflecting on it now and what's come to light and some of the concerns around racist conduct and messaging I think the position could have stayed," Mr Murphy said.

"If I had the file again to make a determination ... I probably would have kept it the same or maybe firmer sanctions."

The coroner concluded taking evidence on Wednesday and is expected to hand down her findings in the coming months.

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