Police apologise for revealing secret deal over death

Ivoni Fuimaono, whose son Halatau Naitoko was accidentally fatally shot by police  in 2009. Photo / Richard Robinson
Ivoni Fuimaono, whose son Halatau Naitoko was accidentally fatally shot by police in 2009. Photo / Richard Robinson

Police have apologised for breaching a confidentiality agreement in a compensation deal they made with the family of a teenager accidentally shot and killed during crossfire in 2009, the family's lawyer says.

Ivoni Fuimaono, the mother of Halatau Naitoko, 17, was in tears last night over the fact it had been made public that she received $100,000 shortly after the death of her son in 2009.

She was forced to sign a confidentiality agreement so even her family didn't know about the money.

In a statement yesterday afternoon, police broke down a $225,000 compensation payment - $100,000 was for the hardship and suffering caused by the accidental death and $25,000 towards the family's legal costs.

"This is in addition to a payment of $100,000 the family received shortly after Halatau's death,'' the statement said.

Mrs Fuimaono's lawyer, Colin Pidgeon QC, said it was agreed by Mrs Fuimaono, himself, senior police officers and their legal representation that the original $100,000 would still be kept confidential. It was paid on the condition that she did not reveal the payment to friends, family, media or even her own lawyer.

Only the total sum of $225,000 was meant to be disclosed yesterday.

Mr Pidgeon said today he and Mrs Fuimaono had met a representative of the police for lunch and they had apologised.

"A lot was said. They (the police representative) expressed their very deep regret at what was apparently a breakdown in communication and she's a very gracious woman and she's accepted that and has instructed me to take no further action.

"Police acknowledged that a mistake occurred, we accepted that it was accidental and Ivoni has decided to continue with the settlement and move on.''

Mr Pidgeon said the money was to be paid within 14 days.

Mr Naitoko, a new father, was accidentally shot dead by police as he drove his courier van on Auckland's Northwestern Motorway on January 23, 2009, during a shootout between police and a man they were chasing, Stephen McDonald.

Following a critical report into the incident by the Independent Police Conduct Authority last year, Mrs Fuimaono filed a $1 million claim for compensation in the High Court at Auckland in March.

- APNZ

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