September 16, 2013
Halatau family deserves more
OPINION: The family of the young innocent Tongan boy killed by a wayward police bullet should receive at least $1 million in compensation.
That's a small price to pay for a police bungle that resulted in an innocent teenager left dead.
And cops should feel ashamed of the way the shooting of Halatau Naitoko was handled and the aftermath where this boy's family has been victimised by police and now made to look like money grabbers.
The 2009 shooting of Halatau was ruled an accidental shooting.
That's a fair assumption, because when cops were hunting deranged, P-fuelled and armed madman Stephen McDonald, they were under pressure to get him.
They were under pressure to bring the situation to a stop, to do it quickly and without casualties.
Problem was they didn't, couldn't and failed. McDonald was a moving target and any officer will tell you that is the most dangerous and worse scenario cops can find themselves in.
Halatau's only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He was a young man with a young family. The fact that his life ended that day on the north-western motorway lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the police commanders who authorised the chase and the officer who pulled the trigger, and of course McDonald.
In the line of fire or firing in the line of traffic?
The handling of the compensation issue by Assistant Commissioner Alan Boreham is disgraceful.
He reckoned he didn't realise the compensation payout of $125,000 was secret.
The $125,000 is about a third of what an assistant commissioner makes a year.
I don't want to compare but when you look at what the families of the Pike River disaster have received, this Tongan family deserves more.
They are a decent family who never asked for the spotlight.
I can guarantee they would trade all the tea in China to see their boy again.
I know Halatau's mum Ivoni asked to meet the officer who killed her boy, because she said they share a strong bond.
She brought Halatau into this world and that officer through whatever circumstances took him out.
But cops reckoned if they allowed that, the identity of the killer cop would be known and leave them open for legal action.
Halatau's family deserves much more. We paid compensation to Arthur Allan Thomas and David Dougherty for wrongful imprisonment. But when it comes to paying for the life of a young Polynesian in a police bungle, it appears to be a different story.
Copyright © 2013, UMA Broadcasting Ltd