Police break word on secret deal over death

By Amelia Wade

Revelation reduces grieving mum to tears after keeping $100,000 payment secret from family.

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 breached the terms of the $225,000 compensation deal they gave the family of a teenager accidentally shot and killed during crossfire in 2009.

Ivoni Fuimaono was in tears last night over the fact she received $100,000 shortly after Halatau Naitoko's death was made public yesterday.

The mother was forced to sign a confidentiality agreement by former police minister Judith Collins' office and so her family didn't know about the money, her lawyer, Colin Pidgeon QC said.

However Mrs Collins' office says Mr Pidgeon is incorrect and that the matter was handled by the State Services Commission.

It was announced yesterday the family was to be given $225,000.

"She was so pleased that they'd reached an agreement and she was happy with the amount they got. But she was let down - there's no other way of putting it," Mr Pidgeon told the Herald last night.

"She's a very brave woman who kept her word but now the police have left her very upset."

Mr Naitoko, a new father, was accidentally shot dead by police at the wheel of 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.

In a statement yesterday afternoon, police broke down the $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.

Halatau Naitoko and daughter.
Halatau Naitoko and daughter.

Mr Pidgeon 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.

"Unfortunately, the earlier sum was revealed and Ivoni was very embarrassed and upset about it because immediately she started getting calls - it was implied that she had mislead them badly. It put Ivoni in a very difficult position and she rang me in tears about it."

Mr Pidgeon said Mrs Fuimoana had used the original money to pay off debts the family sunk into after they were forced to put their courier business into liquidation following Mr Naitoko's death.

The lawyer said it was possible that Assistant Commissioner Allan Boreham, who read the statement, had not been told about the settlement arrangements. He intended to write a letter to the police about his concerns this morning.

Mrs Fuimaono said at the conference that the money signified the conclusion of the formal proceedings following Halatau Naitoko's death and that it represented the beginning of a new journey.

"My son's life is priceless and no money will bring him back and for me to go through these proceedings, it was never about money," Mrs Fuimoano said.

Naitoko shooting

*$225,000 in compensation has been given to the family of Halatau Naitoko.
*Mr Naitoko was accidentally shot dead by police at the wheel of 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 by the IPCA several recommendations have been adopted.

- NZ Herald

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