Northern Territory police constable Zachary Rolfe has been committed to stand trial for the murder of Kumanjayi Walker in Yuendumu on 9 November last year.
Judge John Birch announced his decision – that there is sufficient evidence for the matter to go to trial – this afternoon in the Alice Springs Local Court.
Publication of the reasons for decision has been suppressed.
Today’s session followed a three-day preliminary hearing of evidence in August.
Mr Rolfe’s lawyer argued at that hearing that his client had no case to answer: that the shooting – three times at close range – was “justifiable defensive conduct”.
The prosecution, however, contended, on the basis of expert evidence, that the lapse of 2.6 seconds from the first shot to the next was sufficient to allow Mr Rolfe to reassess his options and choose a less lethal means of responding to the situation.
The shooting occurred during an attempted arrest, after Mr Walker had threatened other police officers with an axe during an earlier arrest attempt.
Publication of significant parts of the evidence presented at committal – the body-worn video footage of Mr Rolfe and the other members of the Immediate Response Team in Yuendumu on the fateful night – continues to be suppressed.
Mr Rolfe has not formally entered a plea but has indicated that he will plead not guilty.
The legal process now passes to the Northern Territory Supreme Court, where his matter has been listed for the criminal call-over on 25 November.
Mr Rolfe remains on bail in the ACT.
– Kieran Finnane