Police ‘failings’ led to killing, says family
"We think this a weak conclusion.'' Jo Pert's family
The family of slain woman Jo Pert says the police have been ‘‘let off the hook’’ following a critical report into how officers dealt with the man who fatally stabbed her.
On January 7, 2016, the 41-yearold mother of two was killed while out jogging in the Auckland suburb of Remuera.
An Independent Police Conduct Authority report, released yesterday, has criticised police for ‘‘failings and errors of judgment’’ after they stopped and questioned the mentally unstable Tevita Mafi Filo hours before he killed Pert.
The report noted a police dispatcher failed to pass on crucial information to the officers, which might have resulted in Filo’s arrest.
However, Pert’s family believe the report falls short of holding police to account for her death.
And a family friend, and former police officer, said the flaws ‘‘directly contributed’’ to her death.
‘‘The more I read the report and the findings, the more astounding and arrogant I find the final comments which say the flaws didn’t contribute to Jo’s death.
‘‘They directly contributed to her death and for the police to say that despite the findings, they will not be looking at a review of their procedures is astounding,’’ he said.
The police have said they will not review their processes in light of the report, and that there is no link to be drawn between police actions involving Filo on January 6 and Pert’s death the next day.
Two complaints were laid with the authority after it was revealed police found Filo with a knife, stalking a couple with the intention of killing them, the night before he attacked Pert.
They confiscated the knife but let him go. The next morning Filo, armed with a second knife, killed Pert while she was out running.
The authority found ‘‘failings and errors of judgment’’ by the police who dealt with Filo that night, saying police ‘‘should have made further inquiries’’ when dealing with Filo.
However, it was not prepared to directly link the police’s refusal to arrest or take Filo in for questioning with Pert’s death.
Pert’s killing was the most violent act in a series of sexually motivated assaults by Filo over a period of 17 hours.
Pert’s family, who laid the first IPCA complaint, responded to the report’s findings:
‘‘We are pleased that the IPCA has rightly concluded that there were failings and errors of judgment on the part of the police who dealt with Filo only hours before he murdered Jo. We note that, because the IPCA felt it was not possible to determine one way or the other what might have happened if the police had acted appropriately, it was not prepared to draw a link between the police actions that evening and Jo’s murder.
‘‘We think this a weak conclusion to ‘get the boys off the hook’. We strongly believe had the police done their job, there is a good chance Jo would still be alive.’’
Filo was diagnosed as schizophrenic, complicated by late-stage renal failure for which he’d been receiving regular dialysis treatments since he was a teenager.
He was charged with the murder of Pert but at a hearing last year was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed as a special patient.
The IPCA report found the two officers who stopped Filo should have made ‘‘further inquiries’’ when dealing with him, and that the police dispatcher did not pass on all the available information.
However, the IPCA determined it is not possible to draw any link between police actions and Pert’s death.
The report noted the two police officers pulled Filo’s vehicle over, noting he was acting ‘‘strange’’ and ‘‘really, really weird’’.
Meanwhile the police dispatcher conducted a vehicle check, which revealed Filo’s vehicle was wanted for an incident involving a theft. However, she did not recall seeing that information and did not pass it on to the officers dealing with Filo.
Filo told the officers he had a knife ‘‘because it makes me feel safe’’. They seized the knife, and questioned Filo on why he had been following the couple’s car.
Filo told police he had got lost getting home – an explanation the officers accepted.
The officers let Filo go, and followed him for a few kilometres to make sure he did not try to find the couple.
Tevita Mafi Filo