Police officer acquitted of murdering Indigenous Australian

DARWIN, Australia (AP) — A police officer was acquitted on Friday on all charges after shooting dead an Indigenous Australian in a case that was highlighted during protests following American George Floyd’s murder in custody.

Constable Zachary Rolfe, 30, denied murdering Kumanjayi Walker after the 19-year-old stabbed the police officer with scissors on Nov. 9, 2019.

Rolfe also pleaded not guilty in the Northern Territory Supreme Court to the two alternative charges of manslaughter and violent act causing death. A jury on Friday also acquitted him of those offences.

Rolfe could have become the first Australian police officer to be convicted of killing a member of Australia’s Indigenous population, who are overrepresented in the country’s prisons.

Outside court, Rolfe said the jury had made “the right decision.”

“A lot of people are hurting today — Kumanjayi’s family and his community — and it did not need to get to this point, so I am going to leave this space for them,” Rolfe said.

Walker died after Rolfe shot him three times in the Outback Indigenous community of Yuendumu.

Walker’s death was protested at rallies around Australia that followed the death in police custody of Floyd, a Black man, in the United States in May 2020. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for Floyd’s murder.

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