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COronial Inquests are usually a grim and solemn exercise in hindsight. They look into the circumstances leading to a tragic loss. It’s not uncommon for families to wait years for their loss to be investigated by a coroner, which can be traumatising – especially if the loved one had a violent death in custody.

The families of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker, who was shot dead by police constable Zachary Rolfe during an attempted arrest in Yuendumu in 2019, have waited three years to hear what they described as “absolutely horrific” revelations in his inquest this week – not about the way their young man died, but about the “disgusting and racist” words and alleged questionable conduct of the officer who shot him.

In the months before the shooting, the inquest heard that text messages were exchanged between Rolfe and other Northern Territory officers, in which Rolfe called Aboriginal people “coons” and other officers called them “niggas” and “grubby fucks”. Officers joked about having “laid into” a woman they thought may have been the victim of a domestic violence incident. It is unclear whether they “laid into her” in a physical or verbal context. Officers made fun of the fact that they would not allow body-worn cameras to be taken away. In one text read to the court, Rolfe said he “liked” that he had “a licence to towel people up”. He called a woman “some…

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