The policeman who fatally shot an Indigenous man in Central Australia has penned an open letter claiming he would have ‘got a medal’ for his actions if the incident had occurred in another state.
Northern Territory Constable Zachary Rolfe shot Kumanjayi Walker in the back and torso after the 19-year-old stabbed him in the shoulder with a pair of scissors as Rolfe and his partner tried to arrest him at his grandmother’s home at Yuendumu in November, 2019.
Rolfe was subsequently charged with murder but was found not guilty after a month-long trial in Darwin in March, 2022.
In an extensive 2500-word-open letter, the 31-year-old took aim at NT police hierarchy and a ‘biased’ coronial inquest which he says painted him as a ‘violent thug’.
He also claimed that in another state of Australia, his act in protecting his police partner’s life would have seen him lauded instead of vilified.
Northern Territory Constable Zachary Rolfe – who fatally shot Indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker – believes he would have ‘got a medal’ if the incident had occurred in another state
Rolfe and Eberl were deployed to Yuendumu to arrest Kumanjayi Walker (pictured) for wielding an axe in the direction of their colleagues on November 9, 2019. Const Rolfe then shot Walker in the back and torso as the 19-year-old resisted being placed in handcuffs at his grandmother’s home
Rolfe also made reference to NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker, calling for his resignation and noting his refusal to meet with him.
The letter – which has been published by several media outlets – painted the Aboriginal teen as a violent abuser who tried to kill both him and his partner Adam Eberl.
It comes as the coronial inquest into Walker’s death in Yuendumu is set to resume next week.
Rolfe and Eberl were deployed to Yuendumu to arrest Walker for wielding an axe in the direction of their colleagues on November 9, 2019.
Const Rolfe then shot Walker in the back and torso as the 19-year-old resisted being placed in handcuffs at his grandmother’s home.
The 31-year-old was charged with murder four days later before his not guilty in March, 2002 after a five-week jury trial divided opinion across the NT.
The verdict left the grieving Warlpiri community angry and calling for justice to be served for their beloved son.
In an extensive 2500-word-open letter Zachary Rolfe, 31, took aim at NT police and a ‘biased’ coronial inquest which he says painted him as a ‘violent thug’
Rolfe painted a very different picture saying his actions on the day were solely to defend his partner.
‘Walker was a young man with a violent past who abused many in his community, including young girls and boys,’ he said in the open letter.
‘When he tried to kill my partner and I … I did not think about his race, upbringing or his past trauma, I thought about defending my partner’s life, and that’s what I did.
‘In a different state, I would have got a medal for it, and none of you would ever have known my name.’
During the inquest, offensive messages sent by Rolfe were tendered which he says were an attempt to paint him as ‘a racist, violent cop’, however, he did apologise for sending the messages.
‘They had access to every single one of my messages and knew that I did not treat a single race differently from others. In private, I talked s*** about nearly every group at times,’ he said.
‘Yet they released just a tiny snippet to make me out to be a racist. The parties knew that the messages had nothing to do with the death of Kumanjayi Walker.
‘They knew the damage they would do once in public – they would hurt the community, the police force and the relationship between them – but they didn’t care. If the coronial’s goal was to ‘heal’, it has failed.’
The former soldier who spent time fighting in Afghanistan said he was ‘a good cop’ and did the job to protect people.
‘I did it because I wanted to help people who needed help, to protect those who needed protection; I was good at it,’ Rolfe said.
‘I was in the job to protect people, but if you were a violent offender, causing others harm, or you tried to prevent me doing my job to protect and defend, I make no apologies for doing my job.’
Rolfe said he is now focused on continuing to help people, whether that be in the police force or elsewhere
Rolfe said he is now focused on continuing to help people, whether that be in the police force or elsewhere.
‘I will continue to help people who need help and protect those who need to be protected; if it’s not in the police, it’ll be somewhere else,’ he said.
‘I’ll live my life knowing I have the loyalty of those I worked with and those who know me … I was a good cop, my integrity is intact, and I am proud of that.’
Coroner Elisabeth Armitage earlier this month extended the inquest into the death of Walker, adding two more sitting weeks from July 31 and August 21.