Warlpiri man shot down by police received delayed medical attention
Please note, this story contains the name of someone who has died.
A young Warlpiri man from Yuendumu community, 266km northwest of Alice Springs, Northern Territory was fatally shot by NT Police on Saturday night.
NT Police are alleging 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker was armed and lunged at police on-scene before being shot down at about 7.00pm on Saturday night.
“My understanding is [Mr Walker] was armed with a weapon … we will need to make sure all information is gathered [in the investigation],” said Acting Deputy Commissioner Michael White at a press conference.
A police press conference on Sunday afternoon revealed Mr Walker had breached a community corrections order and was asked to volunteer himself to police.
NIT understands the young Warlpiri man was on Sorry Business and was permitted by police to first attend a local Elder’s funeral on Saturday.
It remains unclear whether officers had tasers, however it has been confirmed by NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker that body cams were recording during the incident.
After the shooting, Mr Walker was unable to receive medical attention at Yuendumu’s health clinic because staff had chosen to leave the community due to several break-ins on-site.
Police performed first aid on the young man in the absence of health clinic workers and was taken to the police station, but he later died.
One police officer was stabbed in the shoulder during the altercation and has since received medical treatment for the injury.
The incident has been officially declared a death in custody with the NT coroner being briefed and set to oversee the investigation.
According to Guardian Australia’s Deaths Inside project, the number of Indigenous deaths in custody in the past decade totals almost 140.
Since Mr Walker’s death, there have been calls from Indigenous organisations for a swift and thorough investigation.
North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) released a statement in support of Yuendumu community, demanding a “full and thorough investigation into the tragic and unnecessary death of a teenager at his family’s home.”
“The investigation … must be open, thorough and transparent and one that informs the family and community. It is necessary to leave no question unanswered [about] the police shooting and as to why there was no access to timely medical treatment,” said NAAJA’s Principal Legal Officer, David Woodroffe.
“NAAJA expects that the independent coronial investigation … be immediate and exhaustive,” the statement read.
Central Land Council is also calling for “an inquiry without delay that is independent of the Northern Territory police.”
“We want full transparency, we want to see the body camera evidence, we want it out in the open,” said CLC CEO Joe Martin-Jard.
Youth worker and CLC Deputy Chair, Barbara Shaw commended Yuendumu’s Elders for instilling a sense of calm across the community.
“The Elders kept the community together, respectfully and peacefully,” Ms Shaw said.
The Deputy Chair said this death comes less than a fortnight after constructive conversations between CLC delegates and a high-ranking police officer at Yulara Pulka outstation.
Ms Shaw said she felt disappointed and that communities and Indigenous organisations must work together to support the inquest.
“This coroner’s report has to look at the police and all the health and social issues that have contributed to the death,” Ms Shaw said.
This comes less than eight weeks after Aboriginal woman, Joyce Clarke was shot and killed by police in Geraldton, Western Australia.
The investigation into Mr Walker’s death is ongoing and police presence has increased since Saturday night.
“Police from Alice Springs and Darwin have been dispatched to assist in maintaining community safety,” Deputy Commissioner White said.
By Hannah Cross
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