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Zachary Rolfe's text messages under the spotlight

Neve Brissenden -

Former Northern Territory Police constable Zachary Rolfe will continue giving evidence into the death of a teenager he shot dead in Alice Springs, after divulging the racist culture within the police force.

Mr Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker, 19, three times while on duty in the remote community of Yuendumu in November 2019 and was acquitted of murder in a five-week trial.

In the first day of evidence on Monday, he accused NT Police of having an ingrained racist culture.

Mr Rolfe said racism was unacceptable but accepted in NT Police, used nearly daily and normalised.

He said the NT Police Territory Response Group issued an annual award to its officers, using a derogatory name for Indigenous people.

NT Police lawyer Ian Freckleton told the court the matter was being investigated.

Mr Rolfe reflected on racist text messages he sent, shown at the inquest in 2022, saying language he used to describe Indigenous people would have caused hurt to some.

"That killed me, I'm sorry for that," he said.

He will continue to face questioning about a series of text messages he sent.

Mr Rolfe's legal team has argued questions regarding eight use-of-force incidents, his police force application and some of the racist text messages should not be admissable.

Coroner Elisabeth Armitage has been slowly dismissing the claims, compelling Mr Rolfe to answer questions about his previous history.

The court was shown body-worn footage of the incident where Mr Rolfe was shown arresting a 14-year-old boy in Alice Springs.

The boy was hidden in a bin and Mr Rolfe then closed and leaned on the lid of the bin.

He forcefully pushed the bin over and dragged the boy from it before putting him in handcuffs.

Mr Rolfe said he had not been trained how to arrest someone in a bin.

He told the inquest about lies on his police application involving his drug use and criminal history.

He initially failed to tell police recruiters in Queensland and the NT about prior offences, including a charge of public nuisance with violent behaviour in 2011.

He was then barred from applying to Queensland Police for 10 years but was accepted into the NT force.

Mr Rolfe has lost several challenges to avoid answering questions at the inquest which has been running for 18 months, including asking the NT coroner to step aside due to perceived bias.

His evidence is set to take all week.

Neve Brissenden - AAP


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