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Assault weapons ‘confronting’, NT cop says

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A Northern Territory police officer says it “wasn’t a great idea” in hindsight for specialist officers to be armed with assault weapons as they prepared to arrest an Indigenous teenager.

Kumanjayi Walker, 19, died after Constable Zachary Rolfe, 31, shot him three times in his grandmother’s home in Yuendumu, 290km northwest of Alice Springs.

Giving evidence in the inquest into the teenager’s death, Sergeant Julie Frost admitted she did not think the long-arm weapons and AR-15s carried by the Immediate Response Team were necessary.

Sgt Frost told the inquest the high-powered weapons were “confronting and threatening” and would affect the community’s trust.

“I didn’t think they were necessary, but if that was part of the kit that they would normally bring out, then it wasn’t a concern that they wanted to bring them out,” Sgt Frost said.

The officer in charge of the Yuendumu police station was asked if bringing the high-powered weapons into the community increased the potential for the weapons to be fired.

“In hindsight, it wasn’t a great idea because of the fact that they actually did carry them on that day in the community.”

Sgt Frost said she called the Immediate Response Team to help because Mr Walker was difficult to arrest and prone to violence.

“There was some urgency around it, but I know I had to put a plan in place because I knew it was going to be a very difficult arrest … and also that he could potentially use violence towards us when we went to arrest him.”

Mr Walker died on November 9, 2019, during the failed arrest.

Const Rolfe was part of the specialist response team that went to the remote community to detain the 19-year-old just days after he had fled from local police while brandishing an axe.

The officer was charged with murder and later acquitted at a Supreme Court trial.

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

The inquest continues.

– AAP

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