The inquest into the death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker, who was shot by a Northern Territory police officer in 2019, will no longer begin in his home community of Yuendumu.
Family have requested the inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker no longer begin in his community
He died after being fatally shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe in 2019, who was found not guilty of all charges
The NT Coroner will examine his death for three months from September 5
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a person who has died, used with the permission of their family.
Kumanjayi Walker died after he was shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe during an attempted arrest in Yuendumu in November 2019.
Constable Rolfe was found not guilty of murder after a five-week Supreme Court trial earlier this year.
Northern Territory Coroner, Libby Armitage, will preside over a three-month inquest into his death, which had earlier been flagged to start in the remote community, about 300 kilometers from Alice Springs.
‘Change in circumstances’ in Yuendumu
Legal representatives of Mr Walker’s family and community today told the Coroner it would no longer be “appropriate” for the inquest to start in Yuendumu.
Representatives for the Lane, Walker and Robertson families, who cared for Mr Walker, said a “change in circumstances” in Yuendumu meant their feelings towards the inquest being held in community had changed.
Representing the NT Police Force, Dr Ian Freckleton told the coroner local police were aware of an “incident” in the community, which had led to heightened tensions.
The lawyer representing the Yuendumu Parumpurru (Justice) Committee told the coroner his clients “greatly appreciate” the efforts made to hold the beginning of proceedings in the community, but that the inquest should commence at Alice Springs.
Counsel Assisting the coroner, Dr Peggy Dwyer, noted “considerable” logistics, including accommodation and court facilities, had been organized for the inquest to sit in Yuendumu for two days and that the coroner will be required to visit the community at some stage throughout the inquiry
“I will have discussions with the family and community as we progress, to see how that [visit] can be done in a way that is sensitive and most respectful to the family and community,” Dr Dwyer said.
Dr Dwyer suggested the coroner may use that opportunity to engage informally with members of the Yuendumu community and hear their stories.
“There is increasing emphasis on the Coroner’s Courts in the Northern Territory and in other jurisdictions around Australia, of the need to make every effort to make coronial proceedings inclusive to families and the community and to respect Aboriginal culture,” Dr Dwyer said.
Dr Dwyer noted not everyone in the Yuendumu community was of the view the inquest should no longer start there, but that those who were directly involved in the inquest had made the request.
Inquest to be live streamed
Opening today’s hearing with an acknowledgment of country, Ms Armitage welcomed members of Mr Walker’s family who were listening via an online live stream.
The court heard a website will be developed to ensure the entirety of the coronial inquiry can be accessed online, as well as resources in language for community members who don’t speak English.
“I acknowledge this court is not likely to ever feel comfortable for the family or witnesses,” Dr Dwyer said.
“But every effort will be made to make this more open and inclusive.”
Dr Dwyer said videos explaining the coronial process have been filmed and the coroner’s opening address, as well as the Counsel Assisting’s opening address, will be translated and made available on the website.
She also encouraged members of the community to reach out to herself and her colleagues with any questions.
The inquest is scheduled to run for three months, beginning on September 5 in Alice Springs.
A man will face court today after he was charged with murder over the death of a 25-year-old man in Toowoomba earlier this year.
Police have charged a man over the shooting death of Thor Morgan
A firearm was located in the Condamine River late last month
A 24-year-old man will face court today in Brisbane
Police allege Thor Morgan was driving a car on Ruthven Street in Harlaxton when a firearm was discharged from a stolen dual cab and he was shot in the head about 2.50am on March 15.
Mr Morgan succumbed to his injuries at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital two months later on May 16.
Police say divers recovered a firearm from a northern branch of the Condamine River on July 26 which police will allege was the weapon used in the incident.
A 24-year-old man has been charged with murder, arson of a motor vehicle, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of weapons.
Police said they had been searching for the weapon for four months.
They allege a number of stolen cars were involved in the incident — a gray station wagon, which had been stolen from a Newtown home in February, and a white SUV stolen from a Mount Lofty address in March.
The cars were later found burnt out — one in Felton and another one in the Oakey area.
An Indigenous teenager whose arrest resulted in a NSW Police officer being charged with assault has told a Sydney court he fell unconscious after being “tripped” and was spitting blood because his face hit the ground.
Constable Ryan Barlow has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm
His barrister said there would be “an element of self-defence” in the matter
The hearing, before Magistrate Rami Attia, has been set down for three days
Constable Ryan Barlow, 30, was with two junior colleagues in Ward Park in Surry Hills when they stopped three teenagers in June 2020.
Part of the interaction was filmed on a mobile phone, showing one of the teenagers, then 16, speaking to Constable Barlow before saying he would “crack” the officer in the jaw.
The video shows Constable Barlow then used a technique known as a leg sweep, in which he kicked the complainant’s feet out from underneath him while holding his arms from behind, causing him to fall forwards.
Constable Barlow has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The teenager told Sydney’s Downing Center Local Court he remembered being “spun around” by the officer before being “tripped” and denied doing anything to resist.
He recalled his knee hitting the ground first, followed by his shoulder and the cheek area of his face.
In the video, he can be heard making a high-pitched moaning sound while on the ground.
He told the court he was unconscious after he fell and has no memory of what happened until he was sat up, when he recalled spitting blood.
“I don’t even remember making those noises,” he said.
The teenager said he recalled “going off my head” while sitting.
“I just lost it. Got angry, I guess.”
He said Constable Barlow was holding him at the back part of his neck and he told him to stop “squeezing” it, but the officer didn’t.
“He pulled out capsicum spray and told my friends to go away.”
The teenager said he made the comment about cracking the officer in the jaw out of “frustration”, after hearing one of his friends defend himself.
“What were you frustrated about?” Crown Prosecutor Darren Robinson asked.
“That I can’t, you know, go to my own park [without being] harassed by police.”
Mr Robinson earlier told the court an expert in the use of force is expected to testify that the leg sweep technique is not the methodology taught to NSW Police Force officers, however it is not prohibited.
“The prosecution says the force used by the accused was not reasonably necessary in the circumstances,” he said.
Mr Robinson said Constable Barlow gave a version of the incident during an interview which “contradicted” the video, including that the complainant “tensed” his body and attempted to break free.
The court was told the complainant’s injuries included cuts and abrasions to his leg and chin, soreness and pain to his neck, a chipped tooth and bleeding from an injury to the mouth.
Constable Barlow’s barrister, Brent Haverfield, said there would be “an element of self-defence” in the matter.
The hearing, before Magistrate Rami Attia, has been set down for three days.
Under cross-examination, the teenager accepted he was told he was under arrest shortly before the leg sweep.
He also accepted the video showed that while Constable Barlow was behind him, his right leg moved backwards, but denied this was an attempt to kick the officer.
“I don’t accept I was trying to hurt anyone,” he said.
A 63-year-old man has been charged with firearm offenses and will undergo a mental health assessment after allegedly firing multiple rounds inside Canberra Airport yesterday.
Ali Rachid Ammoun is facing three charges, including firing and possessing a firearm, as well as intentionally discharging the gun, causing alarm
The airport was evacuated and plans were grounded for about three hours on Sunday afternoon as police swept the terminal
Mr Ammoun has been remanded in custody, to undergo a mental health assessment
About 1:30pm on Sunday, shots were fired inside the airport, and a man was arrested.
No one was injured.
Police allege Ali Rachid Ammoun arrived at the airport about 1:20pm and sat on some seats near the check-in desks on the first floor.
About 1:25pm, they said he drew a firearm and fired a number of shots into the windows of the building.
Australian Federal Police officers who were stationed within the airport terminal apprehended Mr Ammoun.
The airport was evacuated and plans were grounded for about three hours as ACT Policing and AFP Airport Police worked in partnership to secure the area and confirmed Mr Ammoun was acting alone.
Canberra Airport returned to normal operations about 5:00pm, with flights resuming shortly afterwards.
Alleged shooter to be sent for mental health assessment
Mr Ammoun appeared by video link in the ACT Magistrates Court this morning.
He is facing three charges, including firing and possessing a Smith and Wesson revolver, and intentionally discharging the gun causing another person to fear for their safety.
In court, his only request was that the ABC be excluded.
Magistrate Robert Cook refused the application, saying it was an open court.
Mr Ammoun did not apply for bail, and has been remanded in custody to undergo a mental health assessment at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
The case will return to court on September 5.
ABC reporter Lily Thomson, who was at the airport at the time, said she heard loud bangs and then saw people running towards her.
“I just assumed people were running for their flight,” she said.
But she said she realized something was wrong when people started screaming “run.”
She said she was left feeling “shaken” afterwards.
“It’s just the feeling of not knowing, that’s quite terrifying,” she said.
“As soon as we got out, people were on their phones to loved ones, hugging each other, that kind of thing.”
Airport CEO praises police response
Canberra Airport chief executive Stephen Byron said despite the “terrifying” nature of the incident, authorities had responded well.
“We had our team both on-site and others coming into play straight away,” he said.
“The AFP has trained for these sorts of situations, where you have an armed intruder in an airport environment, and they have teams that are in place and they respond and indeed engaged immediately.
“In this case the offender was calm and submitted to their arrest.”
He said police had worked “incredibly efficiently and effectively” to sweep the airport and ensure no one else was involved.
“In fact, it was a pretty quick process, taking about three and a quarter hours for the terminal to be fully reopened,” he said.
More security at airports not needed: expert
John Coyne, the head of the Border Security Program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said the shooting was extremely rare by Australian standards, and there was not much more airports could do to respond to such an incident.
He said extra security at the front entrance, a measure suggested by some, could actually create even more of a risk.
“That could be a good idea, but then all of a sudden you’ve got large crowds of people lining up in the close vicinity of cars on the sidewalk waiting to go in, so that’s an even bigger target where even more casualties could occur ,” Mr Coyne said.
“I’ve always asked, can you make an airport really secure? And I always say, yes you can — what you can do is you can make sure that no plans fly, no one works at the airport and that there’s no travellers, because everything after that is a compromise.”