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Senior NT cops deny Rolfe's racism allegations

Neve Brissenden -

A group of senior Northern Territory police officers from the highly skilled tactical unit have denied using a racist term at their Christmas awards night.

Former constable Zachary 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 his first day of giving evidence at the inquest into Mr Walker's death on Monday, he accused NT Police of having an ingrained racist culture.

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

On Thursday morning, NT Police lawyer Ian Freckleton tendered four statements from senior officers in the TRG who rejected the claims, saying no such award existed.

"There is no such award and never has been," Senior Sergeant Meacham King said in a statement.

"None of the awards have any connotations to race."

All four statements referenced the "Nugada" award, believed to be the award called out by Mr Rolfe.

They all said the word was "made up" and had no connection to Indigenous people.

"This award is presented to people who have displayed an outstanding lack of excellence in the area of personal hygiene or feral behaviour," Superintendent Craig Garland said.

The winner of the award was presented with a wooden club.

Earlier in the week, NT Police Commissioner Michael Murphy ordered a police investigation into Mr Rolfe's claims but insisted he had not seen any evidence of racist behaviour by officers on the ground.

"We've got really good people, really good men and women across the Northern Territory police who do a fantastic job every day and work tirelessly to protect Territorians and all the cultures across the Territory," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"There are pockets of people who make mistakes. It's about learning from that, not just as individuals, but as an agency."

Mr Murphy said officers worked closely with Aboriginal communities but conceded the claims ventilated by Mr Rolfe were not helpful.

"We have great relationships with the community and really strong ties and we'll continue to develop them."

The inquest continues with Mr Rolfe's evidence.


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