The death of an Aboriginal teenager who was killed by police on Saturday has sparked nationwide protests in Australia.
On Wednesday night, Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe was charged with murder for shooting dead 19-year-old Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker in Yuendumu, 266km northwest of Alice Springs.
A community spokesperson told The Telegraph that family members and witnesses said Mr Walker was unarmed and in his bedroom when police shot him just after 7pm, then handcuffed him and dragged him to a police van.
He was taken to a police station rather than a clinic or hospital. Family were prevented from entering the station to see Mr Walker, and the local clinic was not staffed due to alleged recent break-ins.
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Michael Gunner, the Northern Territory Chief Minister, said health workers from the community of Yuelamu, 45km away, were contacted at 7.30pm but did not say who called them.
The ambulance arrived at 8.30pm and the crew pronounced Mr Walker dead.
The spokesperson said family were not told Mr Walker had died until 10 hours after he had been shot, a fact confirmed by the chief minister.
The day after the shooting a large crowd protested outside Yuendumu police station, using red paint to mark the building with hand prints, symbolising blood on the hands of the police.
Since Mr Walker’s death, there have been continuous protests in Yuendumu, Alice Springs and across central desert communities including Lajamanu, Tennant Creek and Pukatja, and on Wednesday there were protests across the country.
Police initially claimed the young man had lunged at Mr Rolfe and was armed, but would not say what he was armed with.
This was before Mr Rolfe was charged with Mr Walker’s murder. Senior Warlpiri Elder Francis Jupurulla Kelly told The Telegraph the fact the officer had been granted bail was shocking.
“He has been charged with murder – why did he get bail? If a blackfella does that he goes straight to the clink,” he said. “We are so unhappy, we are crying in our hearts. Why have the police done this? The law applies to them too, it applies to all of us," he said.
Mr Kelly told The Telegraph that sweeping change was needed to end police brutality against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“We need to be united to talk about it – not just one-sided policies from Canberra. We need more than the courts. We need Recognition from the national government. We need to have our voice heard in Canberra,” he said.