Coroner Elisabeth Armitage opened her court with a soft smile and an acknowledgement of Arrente country, the land on which the courthouse sits in Alice Springs, immediately setting the tone for the three-month inquiry ahead of her.
WARNING: This article contains extreme and offensive racist language heard in court and the image of an Aboriginal person who has died, with the permission of their family.
She was 300 kilometres from the remote Indigenous community of Yuendumu, where Kumanjayi Walker took his last breath, when her opening remarks were translated to Warlpiri language for the community members both in the courtroom and watching from afar on the live stream.
"At the start of this inquest, I ask myself this question: do I know the story of Kumanjayi Walker, and Constable Zachary Rolfe? Do you?" Judge Armitage said.
Four weeks into the three-month inquiry, the coroner has heard evidence from 11 witnesses including police officers, Mr Walker's family and Yuendumu community members.
The days have been long and the evidence, at times, shocking and heartbreaking.
The tension between the more than 20 lawyers in the courtroom, palpable.
The inquest began six months after Constable Zachary Rolfe was acquitted of all charges related to the death-in-custody of Mr Walker and almost three years since the 19-year-old died in the cells of the Yuendumu Police Station.
A six-week criminal trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court earlier this year revealed – through body worn camera footage played in slow motion to a jury – exactly how Kumanjayi Walker died.
He was shot three times by Constable Rolfe, after the Warlpiri-Luritja man stabbed the officer in the shoulder with a pair of scissors during an attempted arrest.
But it's the days and moments leading up to the death and the hours and weeks after, that Coroner Elisabeth Armitage has spent the past month hearing about.
Accusations of unconscious bias and blatant racism have dominated the first month of evidence.
Here is what she's learnt so far.
The racist text messages
Ruled inadmissible in the criminal trial and still subject to objections by Constable Rolfe's lawyers, a series of "abhorrent" and "disgusting" private text messages uncovered on the police officer's phone have been the subject of discussion with almost every witness who has been called to give evidence.
References to "neanderthals", "c**ns", "n**gas" and violence were found in messages exchanged between Constable Zachary Rolfe and several colleagues.
His lawyers maintain the texts were private and only came to light after an illegal search of the officer's phone.
David Edwardson KC, for Constable Rolfe, continues to object to the texts being included in the brief of evidence before the coroner, but Judge Armitage has ruled not only were they relevant, but lawfully obtained.
She also noted that even if she was wrong – and the 8000 pages of messages from Constable Rolfe's phone were downloaded illegally – "nothing in the Coroner's Act expressly prohibits me from receiving, and considering, evidence that has been unlawfully obtained by another person".
Some of the messages have already been read to witnesses, for Counsel Assisting to gauge their reactions.
Not a single person has tried to defend them, and Constable Rolfe's own barrister called them "patently racist" and "appalling".
Sentiments disparaging of remote police officers solicited responses of "hurt" from cops in the bush, while Superintendent Jody Nobbs and former Yuendumu Sergeant Julie Frost told the coroner they would not have sent any of the officers involved in the exchanges to a remote community if they knew they "held racist views".
Counsel Assisting the Coroner, Peggy Dwyer, suggested the texts are part of a broader issue of systemic racism and unconscious bias within the NT Police force.
Those acting for Constable Rolfe argued the language used in the messages, however "abhorrent", is not relevant to the officer's actions on the night he shot Kumanjayi Walker.
'Deceit' of the Yuendumu community
Kumanjayi Walker died on the floor of the Yuendumu Police Station cells around an hour after he was shot three times.
The coroner has heard police, including Constable Rolfe, did everything they could to keep him alive, but the community's health staff had evacuated earlier that day due to safety concerns, and the 19-year-old was dead before the Royal Flying Doctor's Service was dispatched.
Videos of Kumanjayi Walker's community waiting outside the police station, begging for hours for information about his condition brought his cousin, Samara Fernandez-Brown, to tears as she recalled the distress she felt on the night of the shooting.
Ms Fernandez-Brown told the court the community were "calm" out the front of the station and that a family member should have been allowed inside to comfort Kumanjayi Walker in his last moments.
The coroner also heard an ambulance drove as part of a convoy to the airstrip, where a police plane had brought in police reinforcements, and taken out Constable Rolfe.
Family members said they felt deceived by the secretive operation, assuming Kumanjayi Walker was being flown to hospital, when in fact, he lay dead on the floor of the police station until the next day.
The ongoing trauma suffered by Kumanjayi Walker's community was heavy in the courtroom as witnesses relived the night of the shooting for the coroner.
But police officers, who made the decision to keep Mr Walker's family in the dark, told the coroner as "difficult" as it was, they felt it would not have been safe to inform the Warlpiri crowd that Kumanjayi Walker had died on the evening of November 9, 2019.
They weren't told until the next morning.
The coroner heard police feared the community would "storm" the station, that rocks were thrown into the compound and police couldn't predict how elders or Aboriginal community police officers would react to the news.
Images of a battered ambulance and injured nurse were shown to the court, after rocks were pegged at the vehicle driven in to assist Mr Walker from a nearby community.
A small fire was reported on the health clinic grounds and the coroner heard police feared it was lit deliberately to draw officers out of the locked police station.
From the witness box, several police apologised to the community for the hurt and deceit they endured on the night of the shooting, but those who made the decisions stood by them.
Why were specialist police deployed?
One the first day of the inquest, the barrister for the Walker, Lane and Brown families flagged there was a "high degree of confusion" among police when it came to Constable Rolfe's specialist team of officers deploying to Yuendumu in the first place.
As evidence has been drawn out before the coroner, the confusion has been obvious.
Yuendumu Sergeant Julie Frost told the court she requested the specialist "Immediate Response Team" and a dog handler to be sent from Alice Springs to assist fatigued local officers with a spate of property crimes and the arrest of Mr Walker.
Mr Walker had fled rehabilitation in Alice Springs to return to Yuendumu for a funeral and was wanted for breaching a court order, as well as later, threatening officers with an axe.
The coroner has heard Sergeant Frost and Superintendent Jody Nobbs developed a plan to arrest Mr Walker, which involved the IRT starting work at 11pm on November 9, 2019, to conduct "high visibility" patrols, before meeting local police at 5am the next day to arrest Mr Walker as he slept.
Body worn footage of the IRT searching for Mr Walker just after 7pm the night they arrived was played to the coroner, as a visibly upset Superintendent Nobbs told the court it was "not consistent" with his advice.
The coroner has also heard from Assistant Commissioner Travis Wurst, who authorised the specialist team's deployment to Yuendumu, that he did not think he was approving the officers "as the IRT".
Some said the IRT were deployed for "general support" of local police, while an email outlining the IRT callout specified they bring their AR-15 weapons and beanbag shotguns with them.
Coroner Elisabeth Armitage is expected to hear more about the deployment of the IRT as the inquest continues.
Indigenous police officers
The coroner has heard the words "walking in two worlds" several times over the course of the past month, particularly in relation to the "exceptional" work of Aboriginal Community Police Officers (ACPO).
Senior community police officer Derek Williams sat outside the Yuendumu Police Station on the night of the shooting; his colleagues were inside with the body of his nephew, preparing to evacuate the community, while his family gathered outside, not knowing what was going on.
He kept in touch with Sergeant Frost via text but Superintendent Jody Nobbs told the coroner he didn't know how ACPO Williams would react to the news of Mr Walker's death and so he was not kept informed.
"I knew, or highly suspected, that if I had made a notification to ACPO Williams that he would have then put his cultural obligations in front of the community safety – and I mean no disrespect by saying that – and then the stop gap, the safety mechanism I had in place would have no longer been available to me," he said.
"But the work he'd done that night was remarkable, in my mind, and the difference between us ultimately having the outcome that we had and what was … a highly probable volatile outcome that we didn't ultimately have."
The coroner heard that about 11 per cent of the entire NT Police workforce is Indigenous, but the exact number of Aboriginal police officers was unclear.
Assistant Commissioner Travis Wurst told the court the highest-ranking Indigenous person on the force was a sergeant.
'Extreme' conflict derails evidence
More than 20 lawyers sit across two separate bar tables in front of the coroner each day, representing the eight "interested parties" and counsel assisting the coroner.
Each of them is allowed to ask questions of witnesses, drawing out evidence relevant to their clients' interests – including Constable Rolfe, the NT Police Association, The NT Police Force, Mr Walker's family, Yuendumu elders, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, and the NT Health Department.
But late in the last week of the first month of the inquest, the possibility of more lawyers at the bar table was raised when counsel for the NT Police Force, Ian Freckleton KC, told the coroner some of his clients would need to find a new lawyer.
As police officers continued to give evidence, some of their opinions became clearly contradictory to one another, putting their counsel in the position of being unable to represent each of their interests.
The coroner heard some officers will seek separate legal representation while the inquest is on a one-week break.
Witnesses are scheduled to continue giving evidence from October 10.