Shooting victim's family to sue police for $1m
The family of a teenager mistakenly shot dead by police in Auckland are planning to sue over his death for $1 million.
Halatau Naitoko, a new father and courier driver, died in 2009 after getting caught in the crossfire as police chased a drug-fuelled suspect down Auckland's northwestern motorway.
His family's lawyer, Colin Pidgeon QC, said after a lengthy analysis by a leading expert in Bill of Rights law, they had decided to make a claim and settled on the sum.
The claim will be filed against the Attorney General, under the Bill of Rights Act.
Naitoko's mother Ivoni Fuimaono-Teputepu said it was extremely difficult to put a figure on the value of her son's life.
"I think that goes for every mother that has got children. I think that all children are precious. I never wanted to place a value on him."
Fuimaono-Teputepu said it was more about the police recognising that Naitoko's life meant something. "If only the police will feel how much he meant."
She said the family was struggling financially and had been waiting a long time to file the claim, for which they had needed to get legal aid.
The next step would be to file letters of administration appointing Naitoko's mother the administrator of his estate.
Earlier this year, an Independent Police Conduct Authority had pointed out "serious dereliction of duties" by the officers involved, Pidgeon said.
Naitoko was shot when police were pursuing gunman Stephen McDonald, who stole a car, drove through a police cordon and led officers on an extended chase through Auckland.
He fired at the police Eagle helicopter and, after crashing his stolen car, he left the vehicle on the northwestern motorway.
McDonald was later convicted and sentenced to 13 years jail after he admitted 23 charges, including firing at police, possessing a firearm, aggravated robbery and unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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