Young Aboriginal men in Central Australia were known to run from police even when they had done nothing wrong, the court in NT Police officer Zachary Rolfe's murder trial has heard.
The second week of the highly-anticipated trial has kicked off in the Darwin Supreme Court, with Mr Rolfe's fellow officers in Alice Springs and the Immediate Response Team (IRT) giving evidence on Monday.
The IRT was the group Mr Rolfe, 30, was a part of which was sent to the Aboriginal community of Yuendumu to arrest Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker, 19, on the night of November 9, 2019.
During an attempted arrest, Mr Walker stabbed Mr Rolfe in the arm with a pair of medical scissors, prompting Mr Rolfe to shoot him three times in the chest. Mr Walker died around an hour later from his injuries.
Mr Rolfe has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge which was subsequently laid, as well as two alternative lesser charges.
The court heard details about an operation which took place two days before on the evening of November 7, when a group of officers from Alice Springs went to nearby Warlpiri Camp to attempt to arrest Mr Walker, after being given information that he may be there.
Crown prosecutor Philip Strickland SC showed the court body worn footage of that operation which involved numerous officers conducting a "cordon" around the house where Mr Walker was thought to be residing, while others knocked on the doors and windows.
In the footage, Mr Rolfe is heard to tell officers he is going to "catch up" with two young Aboriginal men who are seen fleeing Warlpiri camp into the nearby scrub.
In his evidence, Mr Rolfe's colleague and self-described close friend, Constable Mitchell Hansen, told the court he and Mr Rolfe followed the two men because they "matched the description of [Kumanjayi] Walker."
After speaking to the two men who showed the officers their ID, it was determined neither of them was Mr Walker, with Mr Rolfe heard on the footage saying "they didn't need to run" as they were not "in trouble."
"Was it your experience that from time to time, men did run away from police?" Mr Strickland asked.
"Yes it was, Constable Hansen replied.
"Particularly Indigenous men?
"Any offender that didn't want to get caught would run generally."
The two officers are heard speaking to three older community members on body worn footage afterwards, which Constable Hansen explained was them "consoling the family" of one of the men who had fled because "they believed he was in trouble for something."
The group are heard to tell the officers Mr Walker was not there but in his home community of Yuendumu, around 300km away.
During cross-examination by Mr Rolfe's defence barrister, David Edwardson QC, Constable Hansen was asked about his reaction to "the axe incident" which occurred the day before on November 6.
The incident involved two officers in Yuendumu going to Mr Walker's house to try to arrest him when Mr Walker came at them both with a small axe. The officers backed away, allowing Mr Walker to flee.
Constable Hansen said the body worn footage of the incident, which the entire patrol group had watched before the operation at Warlpiri Camp, made him feel "quite ill."
"When I got to work, the first thing I saw was that axe incident," he told the court.
"When I saw Walker raise an axe to my fellow police officers, I hadn't heard whether someone had been injured or killed.
"I wholeheartedly believed Walker was about to kill or severely injure those members."
The court also heard from the officer who was in charge of organising the IRT group in its deployment from Alice Springs to Yuendumu, Senior Constable Shane McCormack.
Snr Constable McCormack was asked by Mr Edwardson about whether he is familiar with the "edged weapon equals gun" mantra that forms a part of NT Police training.
Snr Constable McCormack said it was used both in the police force in Australia and in his previous work with the New Zealand police.
He said the training means he would be "100 per cent" prepared to deploy his gun if faced with a knife.
"All my training has been knife equals gun," he said.
"It means that if you present a knife to me, I'm not going to take out a knife as well. We're not going to have a knife fight. That's not how it's going to work.
"I've been given a tool to protect me and other people. The Government sees fit for me to have that tool. You take out a knife, you've increased the level of force I may use."
Snr Constable McCormack said the same principle applies to a number of weapons.
"It doesn't even have to be a knife. If I ever see someone there with a baseball bat, I'm going to draw my gun. A hammer, I'm going to draw my gun."
"An axe?" Mr Edwardson asked.
"I'm going to draw my gun," Snr Constable McCormack replied.
Snr Constable McCormack told the court there was no training around how many times to fire a gun in a specific situation.
However, he said some training involved shooting 18 bullets in response to someone pulling out a knife.
"There's other times when we're doing a scenario where it's - someone will shout, "Knife," and you completely empty your whole clip [16 bullets]," Snr Constable McCormack said.
"You will do a tactical reload - so quick reload - and you might do two more rounds."
The trial continues on Tuesday.
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