A Northern Territory policeman’s concerning text messages before he shot an Indigenous teenager dead have again dominated an inquest into Kumanjayi Walker’s death.
The 19-year-old died after Constable Zachary Rolfe shot him three times during an attempted arrest in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs on November 9, 2019.
The officer was acquitted at trial in March of murdering Walker amid accusations his use of force after Walker stabbed him was heavy-handed.
The Alice Springs inquest into the Warlpiri man’s death heard on Monday Rolfe sent and received a series of text messages in the months before the shooting referring to Aboriginal people as “bush c–ns”, “n—ers” and “grubby f—s”.
In one text, Rolfe said “I’m always ready to make my (body worn) camera face the other way” while discussing the apprehension of an offender during which a colleague allegedly “lost his s—“.
He also called senior officers investigating a workmate over his allegedly heavy-handed conduct “gay c—s”.
Asked about the messages and the use of terms such as “bush c–ns”, assistant commissioner Travis Wurst said it was “disgusting”.
“It’s inappropriate. It’s not the language of (the Northern Territory Police Force). It’s not the language of our community. It’s not reflective of who we are,” he told the coroner.
“That language undermines the culture of being a police officer in this agency and what it means to wear this uniform.”
Wurst said he was unaware officers were using the racist terms, saying it should be investigated.
“(To) get to the heart of where that language comes from and why it’s even being utilised,” he said.
“That would have been the most appropriate way of going about managing that, because it could be about the individual, it could be about their own personal biases, or it could be a reaction to something they’ve been exposed to.”
He rejected the notion it may have been officers “blowing off steam” and agreed it could lead to Indigenous people being de-humanised.
“It’s indicative of someone’s personal biases toward a cultural group that has the ability to impact on their ability to do their job,” he said.
“A job that we must do without fear or favour, and objectively and you cannot have that language seeping into the workplace, or in a private context.”
The inquest continues on Tuesday.