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When Defending Cops Becomes Impossible

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Or when cops should be defended.


Who would be a cop in the badlands of Australia's Northern Territory? The locals say they do not trust the police so perhaps the police (and other govt services) should simply pull out of attempting to serve in these areas?




He was a decorated rookie cop commended for his bravery. Now, he stands accused of the shooting murder of a young Aboriginal man.


He was a decorated rookie cop commended for his bravery.


Today, he stands accused of the shooting murder of a young Aboriginal man.


Footage from police body cams will likely play a vital role in finding out exactly what happened last Saturday night that led to the final moments of the teenager’s life.


Police and the family of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker dispute what occurred in those fraught and violent few minutes before Constable Zachary Rolfe allegedly shot him either two or three times, splattering his blood across a mattress.


The footage may shed a light on why the cop made the decision to unload his firearm.


Police said Mr Walker was attacking officers. His family say the force used was out of proportion and he could have been Tasered rather than shot multiple times.


There are also questions as to why there were no medical staff in Yuendumu, deep in the Northern Territory, that night.


And why locals weren’t told of Mr Walker’s death until about 10 hours after it was confirmed as police tuned off the lights at the station and refused to speak to the distraught family outside.


Yesterday, Constable Rolfe, 28, was charged with murder.


At court hearing in Alice Springs, Constable Rolfe was granted bail and suspended with pay. The NT Police Association said he would plead not guilty. He is understood to have now left the Territory due to death threats.


The killing, which has been declared a death in custody, has stirred up ongoing anger about the deaths of Aboriginal people at the hands of police.


Again, questions are being raised as to whether the police’s responses to incidents involving Aboriginal Australians veer too quickly to lethal force.


This morning, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner urged people to let the justice system do its job.

“There are many people hurting in Yuendumu and around the Northern Territory and in our police force,” he said.

“As Territorians we have been through challenging times before, we cannot and will not let this divide us.”




Constable Rolfe was a decorated officer before he was charged with murder.


According to the NT News, he was a star pupil at exclusive private school Canberra Grammar before joining Northern Territory Police in 2016.


Just days after he graduated from police college, he rescued two Hong Kong tourists who had been swept away in floodwaters at Alice Springs.


His valour won him the National Bravery Medal and the Royal Humane Society’s Clarke Medal for bravery, and Hong Kong awarded him the Bronze Medal for Bravery, the first time a foreigner had been given the gong for an incident outside of the Chinese territory.





As last Saturday dawned, police set off for Yuendumu, 300km northwest of Alice Springs.

Their plan was to arrest Mr Walker, a Warlpiri man. He was released from prison in October after serving eight of a 16-month sentence for unlawful entry, property damage and stealing offences with the remainder suspended, AAP reported.


But Mr Walker was allegedly breached his parole by removing an electronic monitoring device, among other offences.


Police had agreed to postpone the arrest to later that day to allow Mr Walker to attend the funeral of a relative.


It was a busy day in Yuendumu. As police were arriving and the funeral preparations were under way, medical staff were shipping out. There had been break-ins at the local clinic and rocks thrown through the car windows of staff. Health bosses said it wasn’t safe.


Once the funeral was done, at least two officers, including Constable Rolfe, went to arrest Mr Walker. It was 7pm and there was no immediate medical staff available should the arrest turn violent.


Which it did in the worst way.


“They came with two police cars; one parked on the other side of the house,” witness Elizabeth Snape told The Australian.


According to some reports, Mr Walker was on his bed looking at his phone when police entered the property.


The NT News has quoted a source “close to the police” who said there was “face-to-face combat” between Mr Walker and the officers. One officer was reportedly stabbed, which allegedly led to the teen to be shot.


“During that time a struggle ensued and two shots were fired and he sadly passed away later,” NT acting deputy commissioner Michael White said.


The teenager allegedly lunged at one officer as the pair tried to arrest him.


“My understanding is he was armed with a weapon,” Mr White said.


Family members aren’t convinced by this version of events.


“Why was Kumanjayi shot three times? Why don’t police use a Taser gun or pepper spray or handcuffs?” Ned Jampijinpa Hargreaves, a Yuendumu resident, told the NT News.

The family of Mr Walker has circulated an image of a bloodstained mattress with what they claim is the casing from a bullet fired by the police.


The family had requested to see the body cam video recorded during the incident.


Yuendumu resident Senita Granites told National indigenous Television (NITV) she witnessed police load Mr Walker into the police vehicle.


“I went outside and I saw them drag him by the leg and chucked him in the paddy wagon,” she said.


Mr Walker was taken to Yuendumu’s police station. Already a crowd was gathering.


He was seriously injured, as was the officer with a wound close to an artery.


But the nearest medical staff were in Yuelamu, an hour’s drive away.


The Royal Flying Doctor Service did not immediately leave for Yuendumu because it could not be sure the area “was a safe and secure environment for the crew to land” the service stated.

When the ambulance finally arrived, one local shouted, “You’re late, you’re f***ing late,” according to the ABC.


The NT Heath Department said two of its staff were injured as they entered the police station.


Mr Walker was confirmed dead about 9pm. However, the community was not informed until 7am the next day when police reinforcements arrived.


Indeed, police had locked the station doors and turned the lights off overnight as increasingly frustrated locals demanded to know Mr Walker’s condition.

No family members were allowed to see him until his death was confirmed.


Today, NT Police Association president Paul McCue said the officer would “vigorously defend” the charges.


“Whilst we acknowledge the tragic circumstances of the event … he, like all, has the presumption of innocence in his favour.”


NT Police commissioner Jamie Chalker today appealed for officers to keep doing their jobs, despite their colleague’s arrest.


“My police force’s strength is as strong as my weakest link,” he said.


“I need, more than ever, all of my officers to step to the fore. To trust in the process. To remember the oath.”


He said a number of Aboriginal people had made contact with him, “to check in on my officers and to show their respect for the process that has occurred to date”.


“Hate should not have a place in the Northern Territory,” Mr Chalker said.


He and Mr Gunner visited Yuendumu on Tuesday.


But many in the local community haven’t been reassured.


“They both said they were sorry to hear what had happened,” Mr Hargreaves told the NT News.

“(But) we’re still not satisfied and we’re still not happy.”


This would imply that the Aboriginal areas are, at least in parts, largely lawless and violent. How common is this Doug?

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All Australian police carry guns. Mostly Glocks. Corrective Services staff carry guns when on escort duties outside of prisons.


Sheriffs' Officers, who do not actually enforce the law but act as bailiffs and the like, do not carry firearms but do carry cap spray. batons and cuffs.


About lawlessness in Aboriginal Communities: quoting from even a left wing and usually pro-Aboriginal source: https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-are-indigenous-women-34-80-times-more-likely-than-average-to-experience-violence-61809


We also know that Indigenous people are disproportionately victims and offenders in homicide incidents, and that most of these occur between family members.

There is evidence to support the claim that Indigenous women are up to 80 times more likely to experience violence in the “worst areas”. There is also anecdotal evidence and media reporting to support this assertion.

We know that rates of domestic and family violence are higher in remote Indigenous communities, and that there are even greater barriers to reporting violence to authorities in small remote communities than there are in regional area and metropolitan centres. Anecdotal evidence from community leaders in remote communities does back up this claim.


and this from the then Western Australian Police Commissioner:


How would you react if your 11-year-old daughter had a sexually transmitted infection? How would you take the news that your daughter is up to 10 times more likely to be the victim of sexual abuse than others in her class? How would you feel if she was sexually abused and no one bothered to report it?

To most of us these situations are unthinkable and it would be difficult to fathom how we would react to them.

This is the plight of hundreds of Aboriginal children in remote communities throughout Australia and this is only half of the story.

Recently in Parliament, Colin Barnett cited 39 cases of Aboriginal children reporting with an STI in 2013.

For this the Premier was condemned by protesters who, in my view, completely missed the point. Disturbingly, the reality he was trying to present was likely to be far worse.

Statistics about the magnitude of child sexual abuse in remote Aboriginal communities are unreliable, mainly because of deliberate under-reporting. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has estimated that up to 90 per cent of sexual abuse in these communities is under-reported.

Only last week I spoke to my management team in the Kimberley who continue to express concerns that workers in communities are deliberately not reporting STIs because of pressure from the abusers not to “betray” the culture.

Detectives from the Child Abuse Unit, under the most challenging conditions, have also identified gross under-reporting of abuse during their regional and remote investigations.

A police operation in the Pilbara identified that many people did not report child abuse because they believed child sex abuse was part of Aboriginal culture and that teenage pregnancy was a norm. Sex abuse is not part of Aboriginal culture, rather it is a practice built out of intimidation of women and children.

Abusers are equally divided between older men and teenage boys, the latter often beset with substance abuse problems or foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

There are varying estimates of how many children are subjected to sexual abuse in remote communities, however, there seems to be a consensus that about one in four girls is subject to abuse and one in nine boys.

Pam Greer, a passionate Aboriginal activist in the area of Aboriginal family violence, was quoted as saying in 2007: “Men are having sex with children, young girls, young boys .(.(. It’s a tragic situation because the children lie awake at night, waiting for it to happen to them, just lie there, waiting. They know it’s coming for them, because it’s happened to everybody. And who are they getting abused by? People who are in positions of power .(.(. And what happens? The children get stoned, get drunk, hang themselves, and we all know why.”

This is exactly the situation we found in Oombulgurri, a Kimberley community often only accessible by boat from which the State Government has now withdrawn all services. It was a community where young girls were regularly preyed upon by the men who were the resident powerbrokers.

The facilitation of contraceptive implants in girls as young as 11 or 12 when requested by a parent or guardian resident in these communities or recommended by a health worker is not uncommon. This must surely be a last line of defence when it is not possible to adequately protect the children from predators.

Oombulgurri is too remote for the continuous attention that would have been needed to intervene in the cycle of abuse.

I am not suggesting that the closure of that community saved all those girls from abuse, however, there is no doubt that it disrupted the cycle of abuse of power and resulted in the charging and imprisonment of the perpetrators. A necessary first step. Many families moved to Wyndham, where there are services, support and housing.

There is always a dilemma when making a decision of the magnitude of closing a community, but the safety and welfare of our children must be pre-eminent.

The story of Oombulgurri is not unique. According to advice I received last week, the contraceptive implant Implanon is known to be prescribed for younger girls in the region. I was advised the use of the drug was not always in accordance with concerns about sexual activity but might be prescribed for “health reasons”. That statement sounds like just another addition to the confusing rhetoric around this problem and in my mind is nothing more than clever language.

I cannot respond to the safety and protection needs of these children in the way you would expect. It is simply not possible. If we facilitate the existence of communities beset by substance abuse, family violence and child abuse hundreds of kilometres from support or intervention services, then we must accept the loss of yet another generation of Aboriginal children. The Government gets it but many don’t.

In the past few days I have seen images of people trying to save whales at Bunbury and dolphins in the Serpentine River, to get them back to a place where they can survive and thrive. It’s a pity we are not all showing the same resolve for children in our remote communities.

Karl O’Callaghan is WA Police Commissioner

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And about the overall subject:




Newcastle is not a small town. And the ethnicity of the alleged 'victim' has not been mentioned but a look at his photo gives that game away.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Nobody died, but this looks like an open-and-shut case of police over-reach.




The key point is the 1977 judgement that the word in question is not considered obscene.



This then amounts to policemen who don't like a political opinion preventing its free expression. This should be considered really rather serious, but I doubt that it will be, despite the publicity.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The female police officer's communication skills leave a lot to be desired in the video below, and then she ends up accidentally shooting a bystander.


On the autism spectrum? (the guy, not the officer)? If he was no level of communication was going to help.


I suspect that there may have been prior history for this guy and as far as I am concerned no LEO should be put in a situation of working alone if at all avoidable.

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The female police officer's communication skills leave a lot to be desired in the video below, and then she ends up accidentally shooting a bystander.


On the autism spectrum? (the guy, not the officer)? If he was no level of communication was going to help.


I suspect that there may have been prior history for this guy and as far as I am concerned no LEO should be put in a situation of working alone if at all avoidable.


Well that was weird. She certainly didn't pick up on that when she was calm, and reasonable but insistent, like at around 5:30 in the video, he starts to comply, and when she defaults to "you will respect my authoritah!" that is met with pure defiance.

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Dang. Did the mother survive?

I don't think she's cut out for that work.

1. She shot someone who was actually helping her. Working with the mother to calm the guy down would have been the way to go.

2. Actually, people CAN walk away from police. Getting pissed about that doesn't help.
3. When she got into the altercation her scream were pleading, not commanding. Again, not cut out for that work.

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The backup buddy officer wasn't really impressive either. The culture at that particular police station might need a check.


The guy wasn't autistic but surely an emotionally loose kind of guy that probably struggles with society norms. I would have liked to see how he would have responded if the officer gave a quick "sorry to grab you. But lets talk about this morning. Please don't leave again." He might have complyed with being arrested. And it might have helped buy more time for backup to arrive, something worth doing with who was obviously an odd one. Instead her language was machine language "you're rights, you broke law, you go to jail" along with "glad to take you to jail". He may have a record but even if so I would think professional communication needs to be maitained and she easily broke a sense of professionalism, if such a sense was held at all.

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An adult son putting his own mother in harm's way should take the bullet for her.


I am not sure if he was an adult in the non-age sense of the word. He may have been older than 18 but he was no adult. Taser may have been a better option as he was not armed.

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The mother survived but has had several surgeries. Can read about the story here:




Shock, surprise the officer involved was cleared of any wrongdoing in a department that found the above behavior acceptable and within policy. A department that stupid (that the article above highlights has a history of too many shootings) needs to have all leadership and most of its officers fired.


Edit: Fuck it, fire everyone. Anyone decent actually in uniform there will put forth the effort to get rehired and change the culture for the better.

Edited by Skywalkre
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The backup buddy officer wasn't really impressive either. The culture morals at that particular police station might need a check.



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I'm not sure I can place fault on the part of the responding officer. He was operating on good and bad info. I think my critiques lie in how the woman officer handled the situation. She tried going for "command voice" but failed repeatedly on that regard. She then tried force, but didn't have the horsepower to make it work. So, she finally defaulted to deadly force and applied it badly. The ASP baton across the guy's thigh would have been better. Taser would have been more ideal I suspect. But she had him calm at several points.


Probably would have been best to distract the guy with nice talk, and engage him with the mother and other woman there calming him down. Her continued reversion to Tell and then force was doomed to failure because she could not successfully use the Tell and Force part of Ask, Tell, Force.

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America is a police state, we would be radically better off with just an elected sheriff and damned little else. People need to solve their own problems, if you can't solve your own problems, you suck, too bad. S/F....Ken M

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