The indigenous community of Yuendumu is mourning the death of a young man, aged 19.
The deceased, identified by his family as Kumanjayi Walker, is a Walpiri man from Yuendumu. Northern Territory Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Michael White spoke to news outlets in a press conference. He said that two police officers went to Walker’s residence to arrest him for breach of parole on Saturday night.
“At approximately 7:00 pm last night, a member of the Northern Territory Police was involved in an incident where a 19-year-old man in Yuendumu was shot.” An officer was injured during the altercation that followed. Walker, who was shot, passed away some time later. White said two shots were fired, as the man lunged at the officers, armed with a weapon. It is not clear what kind of evidence it was since it is still early on in the investigation.
Walker was wanted for a “number of matters”, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. However, it is not clear what he was wanted for. The biggest question now is, “Why wasn’t a non-lethal weapon used?” White only said that the body-worn cameras that the officers had on them were working at that time. He curved the question, assuming it is a matter for investigation.
The Yuendumu health clinic has been unstaffed for a while, due to the numerous break-ins to the clinic. The health staff had made a conscious decision to do so. The NT police could only provide first aid to him, but beyond that, they couldn’t do anything else. Harry Nelson, an elder in the community, said that friends and family were not allowed to check on Walker on Saturday night. Another elder, Ned Hargraves, noted that the police had locked themselves inside the station and switched off the lights.
An internal investigation has been opened, and Walker’s death is being treated as a death in custody. Additionally, a coronial inquest is mandatory for all deaths in custody. White said everyone involved in the incident would be interviewed and investigated.
Additional personnel is being deployed to the area to monitor potential unrest as the area is remote. He said that emotions run high in a time like this, and the additional police officers are being deployed for everyone’s safety.