Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Family plan to sue police for $1m in damages

Ivoni Fuimaono, mother of Halatau Naitoko, mistakenly shot dead by police in 2009. Photo / Dean Purcell
Ivoni Fuimaono, mother of Halatau Naitoko, mistakenly shot dead by police in 2009. Photo / Dean Purcell

The family of Halatau Naitoko, the innocent teenager mistakenly shot dead by police in 2009, plan to sue police for $1 million in damages, their lawyer says.

Mr Naitoko was shot by an Armed Offenders Squad marksman on Auckland's north-western motorway during a shootout with a gunman in November 2009.

The family's lawyer, Colin Pidgeon QC, told Radio New Zealand they were seeking $1m from police.

The figure was arrived at after considering overseas cases, he said.

The family would issue proceedings for a breach of the Bill of Rights Act.

Because Mr Naitoko did not have a will, his mother Ivoni Fuimaono would have to obtain "letters of administration" from the court to act on his behalf.

"The family are in a very financially difficult situation and the ministry of Justice through the Legal Services Agency has even gone to the extent of granting legal aid to apply for letters of administration, which is quite unusual," Mr Pidgeon said.

"To bring this claim, we had to satisfy [the ministry] that there were good prospects of success before it was granted. They've accepted that she's [Ms Fuimaono] not in a position to apply for letters of administration."

Mr Pidgeon said Ms Fuimaono has a strong case.

He said the Independent Police Conduct Authority had pointed out "serious dereliction of duties" by the officers involved.

"... she feels unless she seeks compensation, justice will not be done."

He said the family was very relieved to have been granted legal aid.

- APNZ

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