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Rolfe recorded 46 use-of-force incidents during stint

Neve Brissenden -

A Northern Territory police officer who shot dead an Indigenous teenager recorded 46 use-of-force incidents between 2016 and 2019, an inquest has been told.

The inquest into Kumanjayi Walker's death resumed on Thursday in Alice Springs, more than 18 months after it began.

Zachary Rolfe shot the 19-year-old three times while on duty in the remote Northern Territory community of Yuendumu in November 2019, but was acquitted of murder after a five-week trial.

Mr Rolfe was deployed to find Mr Walker as part of an Immediate Response Team based in Alice Springs, run by team officer-in-charge Sergeant Lee Bauwens.

Counsel assisting the coroner Patrick Coleridge asked Sgt Bauwens on Friday whether he knew about the 46 use-of-force incidents recorded against Mr Rolfe between 2016 and 2019.

"If 46 use-of-force incidents between 2016 and 2019 isn't many, what would a large number of use-of-force incidents be?" Mr Coleridge asked.

"Ten or 11 a year or something like that and that's just putting any use of force ... around stabilising or a minor use of force."

The NT Police survey recorded Mr Rolfe had the highest rate of use-of-force incidents among randomised members of his 2016 police college graduating class.

Sgt Bauwens said use-of-force incidents would not have concerned him as the response team officer in charge.

"We do not look at their record and how many use of forces they had, that wasn't part of the criteria," he told the inquest.

"Use of force complaints these days can be frivolous."

The former officer in charge earlier told the inquest he was unaware of complaints about Mr Rolfe's use of excessive force or his declining mental health.

"There had been a number of complaints about unjustified use of force ... (and) a perception among people within the Alice Springs police station that Mr Rolfe was developing a bit of a reputation for the use of force," Mr Coleridge said.

He referenced an arrest in 2018 where Mr Rolfe allegedly punched an Aboriginal man in the head, grabbed his hair and slung him to the ground, rendering him unconscious with cuts that needed 16 stitches.

Sgt Bauwens said he was unaware of the details of the case.

He told the inquest on Thursday Mr Rolfe's fatal shooting of the teenager was "appropriate policing".

The lawyer for Mr Walker's family, Andrew Boe, asked Sgt Bauwens if he had seen the police bodyworn footage of the incident.

"Did you pay close attention to whether or not constable Rolfe conducted himself in line with what you believe to be appropriate policing?" Mr Boe asked.

"I did not see anything that was inappropriate or outside of training," Sgt Bauwens responded.

Sgt Bauwens was on medical leave the day Mr Walker was killed and had no involvement in the decision to deploy the team.

The former officer in charge was also shown a racist text message he sent to Mr Rolfe relating to an arrest he had made.

"Mr Rolfe had evidently chased that individual and you said 'these bush c***s aren't used to people going after them', do you accept that the word c***s is a racist term?" Mr Coleridge asked.

He accepted that as a senior NT Police officer, he should have "led by example".

Mr Rolfe is set to testify on Monday when the inquest continues, after losing several court challenges to avoid giving evidence, including asking coroner Elisabeth Armitage to step aside due to bias.

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Neve Brissenden - AAP


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