I/S argues that the AOS officer responsible for the death of Halatau Naitoko should stand trial:
Look at the precedents: hunters kill their mates in tragic accidents fairly frequently. They are usually made to stand trial for careless use of a firearm, or in cases where there is clear negligence, manslaughter. Some are discharged, some are convicted, some end up on home detention, some (in very serious cases) end up in jail. We do this, despite the tragic circumstances, because we as a society have decided that people who play with guns need to exercise the utmost care and responsibility when doing so.
The same rules should apply to the police. Otherwise, it looks awfully like there is one law for them, and another they enforce on us. And we’ve had quite enough of that already.
The problem with this analogy is that the police are legally required to place themselves in harms way in order to protect the public and they’re authorised to use deadly force in such circumstances. In this case there really is one law for the police and another for everyone else.
If the investigations into the incident reveal the police were acting in an irresponsible manner then I think there should be a prosecution – but based on the dramatic account in today’s Herald that doesn’t sound like the case:
Herald inquiries to police yesterday revealed that armed offenders squad members on the side of the motorway fired towards the truck and the centre of the road.
The van, in which Halatau Naitoko was sitting, was in the line of fire. Altogether the police fired five shots, one by an officer with a Glock pistol and four by two armed offenders squad members with M4 rifles.
One of the M4 bullets killed 17-year-old Halatau. Other shots hit the truck and shrapnel wounded driver Richard Neville and the pursued gunman.
Last night, an emotional Mr Neville was in no doubt that the police had saved his life. He said the 50-year-old gunman had moments earlier stood in front of his truck and pointed the gun at him to stop him.
Mr Neville, 40, said he tried to run the offender down but the man ran to the side of the truck and leaped on the back in an apparent hijack attempt.
The gunman then aimed his .22 sawn-off Ruger rifle at him through the cab window, he said.
As armed offenders squad members shouted orders to the offender, Mr Neville hit his brakes in an attempt to slam the man into the back of the cab.
The next thing he knew there was a series of shots, with glass and bullet fragments flying everywhere.
Obviously the police shouldn’t be shooting when there are civilians in their field of fire, but if they hadn’t opened fire they may have been in a position where they were being held responsible for Richard Neville’s death instead.