‘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

ABI­GAIL DOUGHERTY / STUFF

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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