‘Wild shoot­ings’ Griev­ing moth­ers de­mand an­swers from po­lice

Ivoni Fuimaono has ques­tions for the of­fi­cer who killed her son – but a new law would pro­tect po­lice who open fire, re­ports Ed­ward Gay.

Sunday Star-Times - - News -

Ten years af­ter her son was mis­tak­enly shot by the po­lice, Ivoni Fuimaono just wants to sit down and have a cup of cof­fee with the of­fi­cer who killed him.

The mother of Halatau Naitoko has writ­ten two let­ters to the of­fi­cer and made re­peated pleas to meet the cop known only as Of­fi­cer 84.

As far as Fuimaono knows, Of­fi­cer 84 is still serv­ing in the po­lice. But the po­lice have re­fused to com­ment, and her in­vi­ta­tion has gone unan­swered. ‘‘I don’t hold any­thing against 84 be­cause of my faith and be­cause as a mother I know there is noth­ing that can be done to bring back my son,’’ she says. ‘‘But 84 is still car­ry­ing that bur­den.’’

Other moth­ers ex­press the same pain at a lack of ac­count­abil­ity for po­lice who killed their sons. All three shoot­ings were found to be jus­ti­fied. But Raewyn Wal­lace’s fam­ily is launch­ing new court ac­tion over the killing of her son Steven by an of­fi­cer who had been in­volved in a shootout be­fore, and had vowed he would shoot to kill next time.

And Diane Richard­son has cus­tody of her grand­chil­dren af­ter the un­cer­ti­fied ‘‘Of­fi­cer B’’ shot their dad Adam Morehu in the back – even though Morehu had al­ready dropped his gun.

If passed, a new bill drafted by Na­tional Party po­lice spokesper­son Chris Bishop, would stop moth­ers like Fuimaono and Wal­lace and Richard­son ever find­ing out who killed their loved ones.

Halatau Naitoko was killed on Auck­land’s North-Western mo­tor­way as armed po­lice sought to stop P-crazed gun­man Stephen McDon­ald.

McDon­ald had fired at the po­lice. But when the po­lice opened fire they shot Naitoko, an in­no­cent by-stander, and wounded an­other driver.

Eleven days later Of­fi­cer 84 was back at work.

The of­fi­cer was ex­on­er­ated, but the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Con­duct Au­thor­ity (IPCA) found a litany of er­rors, mainly in­volv­ing po­lice pol­icy and com­mand struc­tures.

Of­fi­cer 84’s name has also been per­ma­nently sup­pressed by the courts.

‘‘My ques­tion is: What makes them dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­one else?’’ says Fuimaono, a Man­gere pas­tor. ‘‘Be­cause they hold more au­thor­ity? That’s not fair.’’

Adam Morehu played tea par­ties with his four year-old daugh­ter, the day be­fore he and a friend broke into the New Ply­mouth Golf Club, in June 2013.

Ac­cord­ing to an IPCA re­port, Morehu fired his sawn-off .22 when a po­lice dog and han­dler tried to ap­pre­hend him.

An­other of­fi­cer, known as Of­fi­cer B, heard the shot and armed him­self with a Glock pis­tol. He turned his po­lice ra­dio off, and crawled be­hind Morehu.

Morehu was told to put his hands in the air. He re­sponded with: ‘‘Can you see them on this f...ing gun?’’

Of­fi­cer B fired his pis­tol from be­hind, hit­ting Morehu in the back. Morehu died at the scene. His gun was found wedged be­neath his mo­tor­bike – about 4 me­tres from where he was shot.

The re­port found Of­fi­cer B ‘‘lacked sound rea­son­ing’’ and ‘‘put his col­leagues at sig­nif­i­cant risk of harm’’. Whether Of­fi­cer B faced dis­ci­plinary ac­tion is not known. As of 2016 he was still with the po­lice.

Diane Richard­son is the mother of Morehu’s part­ner, Kaly Gil­bert, and has the care of their chil­dren, aged 10 and 12. ‘‘Adam was un­armed at the time . . . so, it didn’t need to hap­pen..’’

She op­poses sup­pres­sion for po­lice of­fi­cers who she de­scribes as ‘‘the big­gest gang in New Zealand’’. She doesn’t know the iden­tity of Of­fi­cer B. ‘‘I don’t know whether he should have lost his job but he shouldn’t be any­where near guns again.’’

Her fam­ily don’t have the money to pay lawyers to take their fight to the courts. ‘‘The kids have had to learn to not live with their fa­ther.’’

In 2000, Raewyn Wal­lace’s son was shot dead on the main street of Waitara by Con­sta­ble Keith Ab­bott – an of­fi­cer who’d shot at an­other man in a rob­bery nine years ear­lier.

The base­ball bat-wield­ing Steven Wal­lace, 23, had been smash­ing shop win­dows and at­tacked a po­lice pa­trol car.

Ab­bott was ac­quit­ted by a jury. What the pub­lic did not hear was that Ab­bott had suf­fered anx­i­ety at­tacks af­ter a ‘‘wild and un­con­trolled’’ bank shoot-out in 1991 – and had de­clared he would shoot to kill if caught in the same sit­u­a­tion again.

The fam­ily are now tak­ing a sec­ond le­gal case against the po­lice, Raewyn Wal­lace says. ‘‘I can’t run half a race. I need to go to the end.’’

Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Chris Cahill says Ab­bott has had to leave his com­mu­nity. ‘‘It has had a mas­sive ef­fect on him … It has stayed with him for a very long time.’’

When an of­fi­cer kills some­one, it is a ‘‘life-chang­ing mo­ment’’. It is not un­com­mon for of­fi­cers to fear ret­ri­bu­tion and that their chil­dren will be bul­lied at school.

Cahill says an­niver­saries of the shoot­ings are par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult for the of­fi­cers in­volved.

For Of­fi­cer 84, and of course Ivoni Fuimaono, that day will come in 10 days time: Jan­uary 23 is the 10th an­niver­sary of Halatau Naitoko’s death.

‘‘The kids have had to learn to not live with their fa­ther’’ Adam Morehu had dropped his gun when he was shot in the back


Halatau Naitoko died 10 years ago this month. His mother Ivoni Fuimaono would just like to sit down with Of­fi­cer 84 for a cof­fee and to talk.

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