Australian judge orders policeman to stand trial for murder

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian judge on Monday ordered a police officer to stand trial for murder over the killing of an Indigenous man who was shot three times in an Outback township last year.

Judge John Birch ordered Northern Territory constable Zachary Rolfe to stand trial following a three-day preliminary hearing in the Alice Springs Local Court.

Rolfe, 29, is living at his parents’ home in Canberra while free on bail and attended court via a video link from the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court.

He was suspended from the police force with pay after he was charged with murder in the days following Kumanjayi Walker’s death at the Yuendumu Indigenous settlement in central Australia on Nov. 9.

The 19-year-old’s death was protested at rallies around Australia that followed the death in police custody of George Floyd, a Black man, in the United States in May.

Rolfe was part of a four-member elite Immediate Response Team that drove 290 kilometers (180 miles) from Alice Springs into the Tanami Desert to arrest Walker.

The preliminary hearing in September heard evidence that Walker wounded Rolfe and his partner Adam Eberl with a pair of scissors in a darkened room.

Rolfe allegedly shot Walker with a Glock pistol three times as Walker grappled with Eberl. Prosecutors alleged the second and third shots were not justified.

Rolfe has not been required to enter a plea but denies any wrongdoing. He will make his first appearance in the Northern Territory Supreme Court by video on Nov. 25.

A trial would likely be held next year. Rolfe faces a potential life sentence if convicted.

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