Community police panel wraps up Walker inquest hearings


2023-03-09 22:16:31

A community policing panel and a representative of the Northern Territory chief minister’s department are expected to wrap up the latest hearings of the inquest into the fatal shooting of Indigenous teen Kumanjayi Walker.

Brendan Blandford, the regional executive director for central Australia, will give evidence on Friday.

Baru Pascoe, Lindsay Greatorex and Detective Senior Sergeant Michael Schumacher will be on the community policing panel.

Both Mr Pascoe, an Indigenous engagement officer and Elder in Arnhem Land, and Mr Greatorex have past experience working in the police force, while Det Sgt Schumacher works in Alice Springs.

Their evidence will come a day after a senior government director told the Alice Springs inquest that poor communication across departments and failures to pick up on early behavioural signs were key mistakes that might have affected Mr Walker’s life.

Gabrielle Brown, executive director of family services at Territory Families, Housing and Communities, said in reviewing his file, “there was likely very clear missed opportunities to try and change the trajectory for Kumanjayi”.

She said picking up on these earlier “would have provided a greater support to the family to understand what was going on, and how best to raise Kumanjayi and what services or support was needed”.

Mr Walker was fatally shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe during a bungled outback arrest in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs, in November 2019.

The Alice Springs inquest was established in early September 2022 to examine the wider circumstances surrounding the 19-year-old Warlpiri man’s shooting.

In the past fortnight, coroner Elisabeth Armitage has heard from NT police officers, criminologists, anthropologists and more.

Const Rolfe has previously refused to answer questions as part of the inquest.

He was acquitted by a jury last March after a high-profile five-week trial.

He appealed a NT Supreme Court ruling that would compel him to answer uncomfortable questions at the inquest.

The appeal is scheduled for April 11.

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