Kumanjayi Walker inquest: Zachary Rolfe says he’s ‘bored’ with coronial process and is ‘ready to move on’

<span>Zachary Rolfe leaving the inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker in 2022. He says he would like the inquest to be finalised so he can move on.</span><span>Photograph: Aaron Bunch/AAP</span>
Zachary Rolfe leaving the inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker in 2022. He says he would like the inquest to be finalised so he can move on.Photograph: Aaron Bunch/AAP

Zachary Rolfe says he is “bored” with the coronial process and wants the inquest into Kumanjayi Walker’s death to be finalised, a court has heard.

Rolfe shot Walker dead during a bungled arrest in the remote Northern Territory community of Yuendumu in November 2019. He was later charged with murder but was acquitted after a supreme court trial.

An inquest into the 19-year-old Warlpiri man’s death is continuing this week, with the former police officer completing his evidence on Tuesday afternoon.

Under questioning from Ian Freckelton KC, for the NT police, Rolfe said on Tuesday that he did not resent the police involved in the murder case, including those who investigated him or gave evidence in his trial.

“I don’t feel any anger at all, I’m just bored of the situation,” he said.

“I’d like for it to finalise … I’m ready to move on.”

Freckelton asked if Rolfe appreciated that members of the Yuendumu community and particularly Walker’s family may find it difficult to move on, and would find it “hurtful” and “distressing” that his “main emotion is one of boredom”.

Rolfe said he did appreciate this, and was referring only to “the processes that we’re doing”.

The inquest has taken more than 18 months, after initially being scheduled for three, with some delays caused by legal challenges filed by Rolfe’s lawyers.

These include applications for him to be excused for giving evidence and an application for the NT coroner, Elisabeth Armitage, to recuse herself from the case.

Rolfe also told the inquest he was aware of the trauma Walker’s family had gone through, and felt it had been multiplied in recent years.

He said if he was “in their shoes” he would be unable to move forward until certain things were clarified.

“The message I believe they have received is that I have done the wrong thing in that room and I have unlawfully killed Kumanjayi,” Rolfe said.

But Rolfe said that despite being charged with murdering Walker, NT police found after his trial that the incident was only worthy of “remedial guidance”.

“Those two facts cannot coexist,” Rolfe said.

“Until that’s addressed I don’t think the family can move forward at all.”

Rolfe later said he took “full responsibility for the death of Kumanjayi Walker”.

When asked by counsel assisting Peggy Dwyer SC if he considered himself a product of a racist environment within the NT police force, Rolfe responded that “to an extent but I take responsibility for my part in it”.

Related: Zachary Rolfe accused of ‘racist’ assault weeks before fatal shooting of Kumanjayi Walker, inquest told

But he said he believed racism played no part in the death of Walker.

He also denied there was a discrepancy between his evidence in the inquest regarding racism in the NT police and comments he gave to a journalist in the month after Walker died, in which he said the force was not racist.

Rolfe said he was distinguishing between racist language, which he had seen in the force, and racist acts, which he had not.

He was also asked by Dwyer about 12 pages of notes that he had with him in the witness box during his appearance earlier this year, and denied it featured a “hitlist” of former colleagues he wished to target.

He said the notes were quickly jotted down while skimming transcripts of the hearings, and reflected his feelings including that Dwyer accepted some evidence at face value but was “extremely argumentative” with other witnesses.

Armitage said to Rolfe at the completion of his evidence that she was “determined as best I can to find the truth of the circumstances surrounding the death of Kumanjayi Walker”.

“I assure you your evidence is an important part of this process,” Armitage said.

Outside court, Samara Fernandez-Brown, a cousin of Walker, said the family found the inquest exhausting and horrifying.

She said there was a “level of relief” in knowing the evidence was almost over, and that it was possible they would soon be able to look at ways to move forward.

She said Rolfe’s comments about being bored with the process were “frankly extremely disrespectful in terms of the family’s experience”.

“None of us want to be here, we would much rather Kumanjayi was alive,” Fernandez-Brown said.

“This process is exhausting for all of us, and so emotionally tolling, so to hear those words were just horrific.”

The hearing will continue on Wednesday when the NT police commissioner, Michael Murphy, will give evidence. He is set to be the final witness, but the court is also expected to play a video message from Walker’s family after hearing Murphy’s evidence.