Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Crossfire victim seeking Crown compensation

Richard Neville. Photo / MIchael Craig
Richard Neville. Photo / MIchael Craig

A man injured in a police shooting that killed teen courier driver Halatau Naitoko is suing the Crown for compensation.

Lawyers for Richard Neville, who was hit by crossfire after a dramatic police pursuit of gunman Stephen McDonald came to a tragic end in January 2009, filed the breach of civil rights claim in the High Court at Auckland late last month.

Neville was driving when he was confronted by methamphetamine-fuelled McDonald, who had pointed a gun at bystanders, stolen cars and led police on a high-speed chase through suburban streets before crashing into a motorway median barrier.

Armed offenders squad officers fired at McDonald as he stood on the tray of Neville's truck. Naitoko, a new dad driving a delivery van behind Neville, was killed. Neville was struck by a bullet that went through his vehicle, spraying the West Aucklander with lead, copper and glass.

Neither Neville nor his lawyers, Nicholas Taylor and Charl Hirschfeld, would say how much compensation was being sought, but a prominent human rights lawyer said it could top $100,000.

Neville ran an artistic blacksmith business before the shooting limited his ability to work. He said he wanted "answers and an apology" from police.

"I know I have to deal with the poisons in my body, and with the constant pain, but I've always struggled with the things that could've been fixed.

"I haven't had an apology. I never had a chance to say my side. The Independent Police Conduct Authority spent a lot of taxpayers' money making an in-depth report based on one side of the story ... I didn't even get an interview."

Taylor said police didn't return calls when he tried to reach a settlement last year.

The decomposing metal was taking a toll - he finds out this month if an operation is needed on a neck gland affected by shrapnel.

"I look like a banana cake on an x-ray."

The authority found in 2012 armed offenders squad members were justified in firing at McDonald, but there were significant problems with the operation, including a lack of effective command and control.

An authority spokeswoman said Neville was not interviewed because he had already made two statements to police, and given evidence at an inquest.

A police spokesman said Neville received a payment from police after the shooting for hardship and suffering.

"Since that payment was made there have been no discussions regarding additional compensation."

- Herald on Sunday

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