Police officer found not guilty of murder over Kumanjayi Walker shooting.
A jury has acquitted a Northern Territory policeman on trial for murder after he fatally shot an Aboriginal teenager during an outback arrest.
Constable Zachary Rolfe, 30, denied murdering Kumanjayi Walker after the teen stabbed him with a pair of scissors on November 9, 2019.
He also pleaded not guilty in the Northern Territory Supreme Court to the two alternative charges of manslaughter and violent act causing death.
The jury on Friday also acquitted the constable of those offences.
BREAKING: Police officer Zachary Rolfe found NOT GUILTY on all three counts over the killing of Kumanjayi Walker. Rolfe was charged with murder, manslaughter and a lesser third charge. The jury has been discharged.— Taylor Auerbach (@tauerbach) March 11, 2022
Mr Walker died after Rolfe fired three shots into the 19-year-old's back and torso as he resisted arrest in Yuendumu, 290km northwest of Alice Springs.
The Crown conceded the first shot, fired while the teen was standing and wrestling with Sergeant Adam Eberl, was justified.
But it said the second and third shots, which are the subject of the murder charge, went "too far".
Jurors at the four-and-a-half week trial heard evidence from about 40 witnesses. Police body-worn camera footage of the shooting was also shown to the court.
The court heard senior police sent Constable Rolfe and four other officers from Alice Springs to patrol the community of about 800 on the evening Mr Walker died.
They were also ordered to gather intelligence about the teen's location and arrest him early the following morning when he was likely to be sleeping and easily taken into custody.
Instead, they tracked Mr Walker down at his grandmother's home within 15 minutes of leaving the Yuendumu police station.
A video of the incident showed Mr Walker lying about his identity before Const Rolfe and Sgt Eberl, then a constable, attempted to handcuff him about a minute later.
A scuffle broke out and the teen stabbed Constable Rolfe in his shoulder with a pair of scissors before the constable fired one shot into his back.
He fired the next two shots in quick succession 2.6 seconds later.
Mr Walker died about an hour after the second shot ripped through his spleen, lung, liver and a kidney.
Prosecutor Philip Strickland SC said Sgt Eberl was effectively restraining Mr Walker on the ground when the fatal second shot hit him.
Constable Rolfe was on a mission to track the teen down after watching a video of him violently threatening other officers with an axe on November 6, he said.
The constable also did not have an honest belief he needed to fire the second and third shots to protect himself, or that they were a reasonable response.
His state of mind was that if Mr Walker showed any resistance or pulled out a weapon, he would draw his gun and if necessary, fire it, he said.
Constable Rolfe told the jury he felt Mr Walker's hand on his police pistol and spotted him stabbing Sgt Eberl in the chest and neck, and that he feared for his and his partner's lives.
His lawyer David Edwardson QC said Constable Rolfe had no choice but to pull the trigger and Mr Walker had a lengthy and violent criminal history.
He said Constable Rolfe was defending himself and his partner when he fired all three shots and that he was performing his duty as a police officer, and acting in good faith in that role.
The jury agreed.
Kate was trapped in her roof during the Lismore flood.
Kate Stroud, a visual artist from South Lismore, is one of thousands who have been directly affected by the floods that have ravaged Australia's east coast.
Last week, Kate and the rest of her town were prepared for flooding. They knew it was coming their way. But what they weren't prepared for was the sheer magnitude of water.
Kate ended up squatting in her roof cavity for six hours waiting to be rescued.
She was also outside the emergency operations centre at Lismore's council chambers this week as Prime Minister Scott Morrison made his first visit to the flood zones (a visit that media was banned from attending alongside the PM).
I spoke to her last night, and here's what she wants you to know.
What to watch this weekend.
Happy Friday everyone!
Coming at you with some entertainment recommendations for your weekend. Streaming is SO GOOD this week.
I'm going to spend my time catching up with the brand new How I Met Your Father spin-off on Disney+, because Hilary Duff! An icon! and will also continue my unashamed binge of Byron Baes on Netflix, which I am loving to hate and hating to love.
The finale of Pam & Tommy dropped on Wednesday, so the entire season is now ready and waiting for you on Disney+ if you fancy a binge.
But I'm most excited about Upload season two on Amazon Prime Video. The original series was one of my favourite watches of 2020, and I've been waiting nearly two years for its return.
For the unfamiliar, Upload is a comedy-drama set in 2033 when humans can 'upload' themselves to a virtual reality afterlife after their death. The story follows Nathan, a computer programmer who dies prematurely and finds himself in a very fancy VR - only to realise that maybe he was... murdered. Give it a watch and let me know if you love it like I did!
If you're keen to head out... Earlier this week, I saw rom-com Book of Love at the cinema and it pleasantly surprised me! The film is about an uptight writer whose book fails everywhere except... Mexico. He travels there to promote it, only to find out that there's been a lot that's gone wrong (or... right) in translation. So wholesome, so cheesy. It's not exactly prestige, but it's definitely loveable and sweet. And if you're familiar with the wonderful madness of the Telenovela genre, I promise you'll laugh your way through the entire ending.
Enjoy your weekend, mates.
New COVID-19 strain on the rise, and all the news you need to know this morning.
Morning pals, hands up if you've been thinking about booking an overseas holiday this year *raises both arms*
While many of us have been dreaming about a trip away, limited information on international travel and the current invasion in Ukraine, can make the thought of booking a trip feel overwhelming and uncertain.
That's why my colleague Charlie Begg spoke to a travel writer and two travel experts about everything you need to know about overseas travel in 2022. You can read all about it here.
But before you go hunting for your passport, let's get you across the biggest news stories making a buzz today, Friday March 11.
1. New COVID-19 strain could see cases double.
A new strain of Omicron that's spreading in NSW could see COVID-19 cases double within weeks.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state recorded 16,288 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, an increase of more than 3000 on the previous day.
"Preliminary information indicates that ... in only another month to six weeks we could be looking at cases more than double than we are currently getting," he said.
"It is concerning us greatly, that we are seeing an increase in daily cases."
COVID-19 update – Thursday 10 March 2022— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) March 9, 2022
In the 24-hour reporting period to 4pm yesterday:
- 95.9% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- 94.4% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine pic.twitter.com/mKJw41fQMX
Data from the University of NSW suggests Omicron's BA2 sub-variant is more transmissible.
Hazzard is also concerned people have become complacent about getting a booster shot, with just 56.3 per cent of people in the state having had three vaccine doses.
"The virus can still wreak havoc if we don't go out there and go and get our boosters fast."
As we head towards winter, the federal government will commit $2.1 billion to prepare for an expected COVID-19 surge alongside a deadly flu season.
2. NSW pledges $551 million in flood support as QLD waits to join 'national emergency' declaration.
Thousands of Aussies who have had their houses destroyed by NSW's catastrophic floods will benefit from a half a billion dollar support package.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, who has spent most of the week with flood-affected residents in the Northern Rivers, announced the $551 million housing support package in the town of Goonellebah on Thursday.
"We're announcing a package that will approximately support 25,000 households in relation to housing support," he said.
The package, which the federal government is funding half of, will provide 16 weeks rent support ranging from $6000 to more than $18,000 per household.
The government will also provide support for pod dwellings and mobile motor homes while people rebuild, as well as $90 million for the mammoth clean-up effort.
Across the border, Queensland is set to join NSW in the federal government's state of emergency, with the prime minster meeting with Governor-General David Hurley today to discuss the measure.
3. Calls for Russian ‘war crimes’ to be investigated after hospital attack.
European Union officials say Russia’s bombing of a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol could be considered a war crime and needs to be investigated.
Russia was accused of bombing the hospital in the besieged city during a supposed ceasefire, with three people killed and 17 others injured in the attack, Ukrainian officials confirmed.
"Russia’s shelling of maternity hospital is a heinous war crime. Strikes of residential areas from the air and blocks of access of aid convoys by the Russian forces must immediately stop," said Josep Fontelles, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
#Mariupol is under siege.— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 10, 2022
Russia’s shelling of maternity hospital is a heinous war crime.
Strikes of residential areas from the air and blocks of access of aid convoys by the Russian forces must immediately stop.
Safe passage is needed, now.#PutinsWar #Accountability
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the attack was "inhumane, cruel and tragic."
"I am convinced that this can be a war crime. We need a full investigation," she tweeted.
The bombing of the Mariupol maternity hospital is inhumane, cruel and tragic.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 10, 2022
I am convinced that this can be a war crime. We need a full investigation. pic.twitter.com/d5G2IXqYPb
The Kremlin said the incident was being investigated, however, Russia's Defence Ministry later denied having bombed the hospital.
4. Labor senator Kimberley Kitching dies aged 52.
Labor senator Kimberley Kitching has died suddenly at the age of 52 from a suspected heart attack.
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten said Senator Kitching suffered from "a heart problem" on Thursday evening in Melbourne and died soon after.
He said her passing was an immense loss to Labor and the nation.
"To know Kimberley was to be touched not just by her serene intellect but her incredible warmth and vivacity," he said in a statement.
"Our hearts go out to her husband Andrew, her family and loved ones."
To know Kimberley was to be touched not just by her serene intellect but her incredible warmth and vivacity.— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) March 10, 2022
Her passing is an immense loss to Labor and the nation.
In the words of Shakespeare -
Your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by (her) worth, for then
It hath no end. pic.twitter.com/lAv7e9J4ec
Colleagues and friends have also shared tributes on social media, with Labor leader Anthony Albanese saying the party was in shock following her death.
"My sincere condolences to her family. Kimberley will be missed by us all," he said on Twitter.
The Labor family is in shock tonight at the tragic news that our friend and colleague Senator Kimberley Kitching has died suddenly in Melbourne. My sincere condolences to her family. Kimberley will be missed by us all.— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) March 10, 2022
5. Elon Musk and Grimes (secretly) welcome second child.
Elon Musk and Grimes have announced the birth of their second child, who was secretly born last year.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Grimed shared the couple's daughter, named Exa Dark Sideræl Musk, was born in December last year via surrogate, after the baby began crying from another room during the interview.
The 34-year-old said they call their daughter Y, which is fitting considering their son is referred to as X.
Grimes and the tech mogul broke up in September last year after three years together, however, their relationship is now "fluid".
"I would probably refer to him as my boyfriend, but we’re very fluid. We live in separate houses. We’re best friends. We see each other all the time... We just have our own thing going on, and I don’t expect other people to understand it,” she told the publication.
"This is the best it’s ever been," she said about their happiness. "We just need to be free."
And that's it, you're all up to speed. We'll be back to bring you across more of the biggest news stories throughout the day.
- With AAP.
In defence of the 'crazy' cat ladies.
For thousands of years women have had a unique relationship with cats in many different cultures, often associated with fertility and protection. Yet somehow in modern representations, women with cats are often portrayed as sad and lonely.
So how did we go from revering women with cats, to pitying and stereotyping them as 'crazy'?
The Quicky speaks to two experts of cats about the history of the 'crazy cat lady' trope, and a whole lot of self-confessed cat ladies.
- What women were talking about on Thursday
- What women were talking about on Wednesday
- What women were talking about on Tuesday
- What women were talking about on Monday
Feature Image: AAP.