An Indigenous woman has angrily confronted former Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe after he made shocking claims about a racist culture in the police force.
Rolfe was testifying at an inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker, the teenager he shot dead in the remote community of Yuendumu in November 2019.
He alleged the Darwin-based Territory Response Group (TRG) internally held a ‘c**n of the year’ award for members who “displayed the most c**n-like behaviour”.
Messages between police officers also allegedly referred to Aboriginal people as “bush blacks” and “sand blacks”.
At the end of the day’s proceedings, an Aboriginal woman approached Mr Rolfe and repeatedly called him ‘f****** p****’, while he pointed his finger at her and told her: ‘don’t be silly ‘. .
Former Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe (right) is seen confronted by an Aboriginal woman.
At one point, the woman lifted her beach thong and Rolfe’s lawyer, Michael Abbott KC, reached out to protect his client.
At the hearing, Rolfe said the winner of the ‘pussy of the year’ award would be made to ‘dress in a toga and given a wooden club with some nails on the end.’
He said the alleged racism in the police force was “accepted” and “known by a number of people who have given evidence here, and a number of people have lied about it”.
“Culture starts in the head and in a small place like the NT Police, we’re going to hear about this sort of thing and it becomes normalised,” he said.
However, Rolfe was never a member of the TRG and did not attend the awards he spoke about.
“I found it strange that high-level people were involved in this,” he told the inquest.
Asked if he now realized how problematic the alleged racist language used in the NT Police was, he said: “100 per cent.”
“The fact that, for example, I said f**k in my (text) messages, the fact that that was made public, which would have caused harm to a number of people, especially children, who should have able to trust the police. force, that kills me, so I’m sorry, but I can’t take it back,” Mr. Rolfe said.
He added that while he did not agree that he “accepted” the language used, “it rubbed off on me.”
Rolfe’s allegations about the TRG were so shocking that Commissioner Michael Murphy ordered an immediate investigation.
Coroner Elisabeth Armitage issued an order not to publish the names and ranks of the people mentioned in evidence while the allegations were investigated.
Rolfe, who shot 19-year-old Walker three times, was acquitted of murder in a five-week trial in 2022.
He will continue to face questions Tuesday about a series of text messages he sent.
His legal team argued that questions about eight use-of-force incidents, his use of police force and some of the racist text messages should not be admissible.
Kumanjayi Walker (pictured) was shot dead in the remote Yuendumu community in November 2019.
Zachary Rolfe (pictured) made shocking claims about a racist culture in the NT police force
But Armitage has been dismissing the allegations, forcing Rolfe to answer questions about his past history.
The court was shown footage of the incident showing Mr Rolfe arresting a 14-year-old boy in Alice Springs.
The child was hiding in a container and Mr Rolfe closed it and leaned on the lid of the container.
He forcefully pushed the container and dragged the boy out of it before handcuffing him.
Rolfe said he had not been trained to arrest someone in a container.
He told the investigation lies in his police application related to his drug use and criminal record.
He initially failed to inform police recruiters in Queensland and the NT about previous offences, including a charge of disorderly conduct with violent behavior in 2011.
He was then banned from applying for the Queensland Police for 10 years, but was accepted into the NT force.
Rolfe has lost several challenges to avoid answering questions at the inquest which has been underway for 18 months, including asking the NT coroner to step aside due to perceived bias.
His statement will last all week.