RIP Halatau Naitoko

The Police have now admitted that it was a police shot that killed innocent courier driver Halatau Naitoko on Auckland’s North-western motorway. My most sincere condolences to Halatau’s friends and family.

As Irish Bill points out at the The Standard, this incident has nothing to do with party political policy. But it does seriously call into question Police operational policy.

I have often had concerns about how Police respond incidents of dangerous driving. It seems to me that the best response to dangerous driving is to get a helicopter in the air and track where the driver goes. Eventually, he or she will stop, and a Police contingent can then be sent in to arrest him or her. Police chases at high speed are likely to exacerbate the situation, and provoke the offending driver into taking increasingly excessive risks.

The incident yesterday that led to a Police officer fatally shooting the innocent Halatau Naitoko started with a simple bag snatch. This is hardly the crime of the century, but I acknowledge it probably justified an initial Police pursuit.

But once the offender’s driving became dangerous and he presented and discharged a firearm, the Police were in a totally different league. I would have thought that, rather than put public safety at risk, the best response would be to abandon the pursuit, let the driver stop at his eventual destination, and then move in (with armed Police, given the offender’s use of a firearm) to arrest him once he was off the road.

Sadly, it seems that the Police pursuit and armed response to this particular offender, over what started out as a relatively minor offence, cost the life of the innocent Halatau Naitoko and put the lives and safety of many other commuters on Auckland’s roads at risk.

It is time for the Police to rethink their response tactics in instances like this – too many lives (usually those of offenders, but in this case, that of an innocent courier driver going about his business) have been lost as a result of the Police adopting a “pursue at all costs” response.


44 thoughts on “RIP Halatau Naitoko

  1. toad,

    Your recommendation for police procedure to deal with an armed (and firing) fugitive by simply following him (or her) by helicopter is hugely simplistic and fatally flawed.

    As was the case in this case, once the offenders vehicle become inoperative, the firearm was used to try and commandeer another vehicle. Luckly the truck driver was only injured this time, next time there could be one or more fatalities. See this report on how close the public came to more fatalities.

    Can you imagine the public outcry when maybe three or four innnocent people are killed during a fugitives escape while police are following your procedural requirements by tracking using a helicopter only?

    The Police are placed in an impossible situation. Your recommendations do nothing to help that.

    Now if we were to arm the helicopter with laser guided rockets, they could simply take the offenders car out “on the spot”.

    But then you would be upset as the now dead fugitive did not have a “fair trial” and his (or hers) day in court to pleed poor parenting and poverty and social injustice and any other bleeding heart platitudes to exuse anti social and criminal behaviour .

    The situation that developed on Friday was bad, sad and distressing .

    However you recommendation of helicopter pursuit only is not an option.

    Heck, we only provide the police with one for the whole Auckland region. So if an armed offender made a getaway in Pukekohe and simultaniously another made a getaway in Albany, one would get away scott free.

    Does not compute toad. Like they say, all wars are won on the ground, never in the air.

    I dont have the perfect answer, toad, but what the police do now is as close as we can get with the resources we place at the police force disposal.

    Yes, they get it wrong, they botch up, they shoot the wrong person. Could you personally do a better job?

    Surely a call for better training and coordination of increased resources would be a more worthwhile innitiative then your helicopter only pursuit suggestion.

    Interestingly when the South Auckland dairy owners was shot and killed, the Police got rasberries for not being responsive enough. Now they get rasberries for being too responsive.

    Where is the best line? I suggest not in helicopter pursuits only.

    And how about sheeting home some blame on the fugitive.

  2. The incident was called to police attention by a bag snatching. That was when they also noticed a firearm in the car. And that was when they started the pursuit.

    Would have been fair to say, “Oh that dude has a gun in his car, we better call the helicopter to keep an eye on him. Im back off to the station.”

  3. Time and time again we hear of tragic endings to police chases. How many more have to die before changes are made? Surely there is a more effective way of apprehending a bag snatcher…. a child has lost its father due to police error. This chase should have been called off way before it got onto the motorway. At the end of the day, no apology from the police could heal the hurt that were feeling right now as a family of Halatau.!

  4. I’m one of Tau’s courier dispatchers for Kiwi Express. And during all of Friday i would never of guessed that it was one of our drivers that was hurt in this case killed. I’ll miss Tau a lot being silly not communicating with us sometimes or being a smart arse on the phone. He was a really nice guy who worked in place of his mum. His really going to be missed. RIP Halatau xoxo

  5. This smacks to me of another case of Police overriding standing orders of operation that are routinely hashed out in the papers every time one of these incidents occurs.

    After the fact, crocodile tears are not going to be taken seriously. Not by anyone who has had experience of Police protecting those who offend against NZ law, within their own ranks, and certainly not by me.

    To Jayne –
    Yes, they were arrogant not to inform the employer/franchise, Kiwi Express, as soon as reasonably possible.
    Hardly difficult to find, given sign-writing on the vehicle?
    I’m assuming here his mum was the contractor, and he just worked her spot as a fill-in; but still, common decency would give one the expectation that both family and collegues would be notified of why he was not responding.

    I add my condolences to the family and workmates of Halatau Naitoko, one who was truly cut down in the prime of life, not asking for this, just minding his business and trying to make a decent life for his family. RIP.

  6. Lawrence,

    How many more people will die? Heaps. But bear in mind you are about 1000 times more likely to be killed in your home, on the street or in your work place due to criminal activity, than you are due to police action.

    We live in a violent society, it is a fact of life. Only one thng will stop that.

    Criminals to stop being criminals.

    When we get to that utopia, you will be save.

    Until then we have this imperfect criminal control system in place called the police.

    Please feel free to come up with a workable replacement system, or go ahead and join the existing one to correct the imperfections you see.

    If you saw the TV interview with the truck driver, you witnessed a very thankful man, who fully believed his life was saved by the police action. As was the couple featured in the Stuff article linked to in my first comment.

    Just remember, your death can be just around the corner, a criminal will end it for you about a 1000 times more likely than police action.

    It is called reality and facing up to it. Be you a dairy owner, pizza delivery driver, prostitute, taxi driver, home alone in an isolated farm house, riding a quad bike on a Wellington hill side or any other recent murder victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    And please lay ALL of the blame on the gun carrying criminals. Without them you would be perfectly save from being shot by police.

    And like anarkatie, I too add my condolences to the family and workmates of Halatau Naitoko, one who was truly cut down in the prime of life, not asking for this, just minding his business and trying to make a decent life for his family. RIP.

    A sad situation, instigated by one criminal who decided to run from the law (not the police) and made use off a deadly weapon to terrorise the rest of the law abiding community.

    The total responsibility lies directly with that person.

  7. Gerrit said: Your recommendation for police procedure to deal with an armed (and firing) fugitive by simply following him (or her) by helicopter is hugely simplistic and fatally flawed.

    Gerrit, I’m not suggesting that the Police should never chase a traffic offender or an armed offender. What I am saying is there are instances when the risk to public safety in chasing an offender exceeds the risk to public safety in letting the offender go wherever he or she is intending to go and apprehending him or her at some later time in safer circumstances.

    I would have though that if an offender is sufficiently desperate enough to present a firearm to Police, as I understand occurred in this instance, the Police would judge that he or she is also desperate enough to lead them on a dangerous high speed chase and, if cornered, to use the firearm. It seems that is what happened in this instance – that the incident crossed the threshold where the threat to public safety in continuing the pursuit exceeded that of abandoning it, the Police did not make the call to abandon the pursuit, and an innocent young man died in the ensuing shootout.

  8. anarkaytie-
    My boss didn’t get informed until he rang Tau’s mum up to ask about his 2 packages being late to delivery end. and thats when His mum said Tau was in the middle of it all…

    and everyone else-
    stop debating so crazily because its not gona help anyone!!

  9. the oficer whi fired the round that murderdsd this lad should be tried and convicted of manslaughter at least.
    The person they were pursuing had only a .22 rifle ,which is not an automatic and would require a reload to make the next shot. The armed police officer should NEVER have taken the shot unless he was absolutely sure of his target.
    There is NO excuse for this whatsoever the Police issued a round to amna whoi was not a target , which also brings in to play why the police oficers were so mentally disorietated,scared and frightened that they took an innocent mans life. Or were they so poorly trained that they shot that anything that moved. All in all a very scary situation for us all.

  10. Mike, are you out of your mind?

    Manslaughter at least??? This police officer was trying to protect the rest of the public! And just before you say he ‘murdered’ the man, be aware that murder requires intention. Do you really think this police officer intentionally shot dead a young man? Why don’t you wait for the report to come out before you make your judgements about this man being a ‘murderer’ and insisting he be tried for ‘manslaughter’.

    I have so much sympathy for the Naitoko family, and I would never expect them to forgive this terrible mistake.

    To everyone who is complaining the police did a shit job: You complain if they dont act soon enough. And you complain if they act too soon. I’d like to see you be a cop for a day and try to be perfect.

    So poorly trained they shot at anything that moved? You make me really angry. These police officers put their lives on the line, EVERY SINGLE DAY, to protect the public. And all you can do is point the finger when something finally goes wrong. This is the first innocent bystander to EVER be killed by a police officer, and I think that’s pretty damn good. In saying that, I do have complete respect for Halatau’s whanau, and am not trying to detract or make any of it seem ‘fair’ for them, because it is not.

    It is unfortunate, it is horrible, it is devastating. But how dare you make such a critical comment. This police officer will absolutely crushed as it is. Unless you have been a police officer or worked in the Armed Offender’s Squad, keep your uneducated judgements to yourself.

  11. [This is the first innocent bystander to EVER be killed by a police officer] in New Zealand, I should add.

  12. Wow…Mike dude your totally going over the top Sam’s right… the Police were just doing they’re job and also the poor officer must being feeling real crap right now and must be feeling that way since they found out the bullet was his.

    And Mike your crazy to think that police officer should get manslaughter again Sam’s right manslaughter or murder is only put upon someone when they do it intentionally and im so sure the officer didn’t aim at the Tau it was pure mistake and also sam said its the first bystander ever shot by an officer so go take your argument somewhere else because it aint gona work here mate.

  13. toad,

    Your assumption that IF the police had not chosen to chase this particular fugitive, you may well have alive the courier driver, BUT the truck driver AND the couple in the other car MAY well have been shot by the fugitive.

    My point is IF the police did not give chase AND the fugitive killed the truck driver PLUS the couple in the car, would you have said the police did a good job?

    The police where in between a rock and a hard place with this one, damned it they did, damned if they did’nt.

    Are you laying any blame on the fugitive?

    Another point to consider in a helicopter chase only is that the fugitive can at any time take a member of the public hostage and be holed up somewhere,. So while yes, the police know exactly where he (or she) has gone to ground, but they still have to go in and arrest the fugitive. More oppotunity for innocent people to get involved.

    It is also an opportunity for the fugitive to rearm, barricade, andf build a defence postions (with possible reinforcements) that may well take more lives.

    Lie I said toad, I dont have a perfect answer (and I suspect ther is not one).

    But to do nothing but observ while a gunman runs amok is not a good one I would suggest.

    Consider off course that the police have to act on information it receives as the action is in progress. You ar emaking a luine call AFTER the event.

    Would you, as the police control officer have called off the chase when the fugitive was discharging a firearm?

    Be a big call..

  14. All the police have to do is invest in technology which can stop a car in a chase, ie massive voltage through the car. Obviously the police need much better firearm training. When you take a shot you HAVE to know where that bullet is EXACTLY going, anything else is poor training. Police seem to think they are a gang in nz, and abuse their power at every turn. Full sympathy to the family of the innocent. No sympathy to the police.

  15. Yet another uneducated man, Tim Pain.

    The police don’t think they are a ‘gang’. They are everyday people, with children and wives/husbands, who are out there doing their job and trying to make money to support their whanau. They do not abuse their power at every turn. The police have so many callouts, many of those put their lives in risk, and they act within their ‘power’ to ensure the safety of the public and themselves.

    The headlines this morning show a policewoman in South Auckland was bashed in the face over and over yesterday by a 16 year old boy. It would have been easier to shoot/pepper spray/baton this kid, but police try to reserve means like this until they are really necessary. This is the FIRST TIME an innocent bystander has EVER been killed in NZ, so I think this ‘police need much better firearms training’ is bullshit. Was it better to not shoot, and let that gunman take out the driver of the truck AND Halatau AND the two teenagers in the Subaru AND possibly a few cops too? New Zealand are so quick to point the finger – I could never be a cop here, because you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

    Before you point the finger, try to remember that police officers are doing a job, a bloody challenging job, where they have to actually approach danger on a daily basis. If you were having shots fired at you and the public, would you use your power to stop that? Of course you would. Don’t try and be a martyr and pretend you are above human instinct.

    Full sympathy to the family of the innocent, AND full sympathy to the police.

  16. Condolences to Voni & family.
    Halatau will sadly be missed.
    I’d also like to offer my sympathy to the officer involved in the incident. No one would have predicted the tragic outcome of one poor excuse for a human beings selfish actions. It certainly was his lucky day. But like everyone else his time will come,and hope that one innocent young life taken will be a constant reminder of a need to change his criminal ways. That would be the least most honourable thing for him to do after what he has done.

  17. When are NZ police going to recieve proper firearms training?

    After watching the disturbing footage back in 2007 of police firing no less than 12 shots at a dog that was deliberately set upon them, their M4 Assault Rifle barrels swinging wildly, pointing at each-other, the cameraman filming the chaos, and the houses of who-knows how many innocent people.

    It was a miracle that no-one was killed that evening in Porirua, and it sparked calls from experts to get our police more firearms training before an innocent person was killed. It was clear from the footage shown that not only had the police selected an innapropriate weapon for this situation in the M4 (a weapon specifically designed to penetrate body armour and light cover), they were clearly handling the weapons in a manner so unsafe that military experts were horrified.

    Equally eye-opening was the justification given by Police spokesperson Inspector John Spence for the failure to bring down the dog with 12 seperate shots. “It was a small, fast moving target. I am satisfied no members of the public were put at risk” he said.
    I’m not sure if I’m more worried by the fact that the police don’t seem to train at hitting moving targets or that they seem to believe that 12 stray rounds from an assault rifle in a built-up area didn’t put any innocent lives at risk.

    The Police leadership has failed to heed the warnings about the inapproprateness of their military carbines, failed to heed the warnings about the recklessness of the officers using them, and now a member of the public lies dead as a result.

    In an incident on a crowded Auckland motorway, Police cornered and confronted an armed and unprodictable offender with their assault-rifles, and in what would seem to be the inevitable result of the woefully inadequate training highlighted in the dog incident in Porirua has cost an innocent man his life because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, in an incident that may well have been prevented by something as simple as training officers to shoot at moving targets, or offering officers a choice of more suitable weapons than M4 carbines.

    Why the Armed Offenders Squad feel it’s neccessary to use the M4 and it’s jacketed penetrator rounds in confrontation against unarmoured individuals in built up areas is quite beyond me, it would seem a weapon like the MP5 submachine-gun which fires pistol rounds and has proven very effective in policing and anti-terrorist roles around the world would make a more suitable default weapon in this type of confrontation than the militarized M4, and it’s concomittant risk of collateral damage due the the more energetic nature of the M4 round and it’s greater propensity to penetrate structures and ricochet.

    If this whole fiasco ends in anything less than a major overhaul of Police firearms training and weapon selection then it will be a huge loss for the New Zealand public and a recipe for many repeats of the same scenario, especially if it ends up scapegoating an officer who was probably acting exactly as his training indicated he should with the only weapon at his disposal to save the life of another innocent actor in this drama.

  18. Steviant, i could not have put it any better myself. Sam, attacking someones education over what you believe to be true is poor. Saying that they are regular people just doing their job is bs. They have chosen this line of work because it attracted them to the power, and with power comes the abuse of power. I have seen on many occasions when law abiding citizens are taunted by the police.

    I do feel sympathy for the policewoman in South Auckland in that got bashed. But once again it shows inadequate training. And also highlights the importance of extra training for women and they are at a natural disadvantage.

    Shooting machine guns down a motorway is something i would expect in Iraq not New Zealand.

  19. Jayne –
    Sounds like it was a truly awful day for everyone at your workplace.

    FWIW, I worked in admin for traffic offences prosecution, back in the 80’s, and spent a lot of time speaking to the parents of injured children, who were to be subpoenaed for accident-causing-injury prosecutions; so I do know the standard of adequacy that is applied in cases like this. Such standards have slipped, considerably. We didn’t handle cases involving road deaths in those days, they were handed straight over to the Police, but the two forces’ amalgamation happened just before I left that position.
    [and I no longer work in the public service!]

    There has been such a lot of speculation and debate here, which I feel is not done in a respectful way, especially with regard to the deceased, his family and workmates.

    This case is still being investigated by the Police Complaints Authority, and may go to Court – such speculative commentary is not helpful, and while blogs don’t come under the same constraints as print media, we would do well to respect the investigations that are under way, not pre-judging, and certainly not interfering with matters which may come under sub judice rules at some future point.

  20. My apologies, Tim, I do agree that somewhere along the line, there needs to be better training or perhaps training ‘refreshers’ to help prevent such situations. In respect of this fact, this responsibility lies with the police educators, rather than the individual police officer themselves.

    I do have to disagree with ‘Police seem to think they are a gang in nz, and abuse their power at every turn.’ I know several police officers, and in no way are they attracted to the ‘power’ involved with the job – in fact, sometimes they find this power intimidating and challenging, as people expect them to act differently in their jobs than every other citizen.

    I do understand power goes to the heads of some police, and that some are attracted to the power. But using the generalisation of ‘police think they are gangs and abuse their power’ is quite offensive, especially to the average police officer trying to make a living, who is threatened, spat at, punched, and verbally abused on a regular basis.

    I guess it is up to the PCA to decide what went wrong here – I am by no means educated enough in this matter to believe I am right. I just wish New Zealander’s would open their eyes and stop automatically making the police the enemy. There are many victims in this instance, and although without a doubt, the family of Halatau Naitoko are the primary ones, I believe it is also a devastating time for the police involved too.

  21. anarkaytie-

    Yeah its been a hectic week in the office…

    A few of us went to see the family last night very packed we didn’t quite make it into the service too many people and we respected the family who wanted to go in to see Tau and we just basically went to support the family. Its such a peaceful environment there…

    about 600 to a 1000 ppl have been coming and going to visit the family and ye its sad but all of them are just wanting to celebrate his life here on earth and the continuation of his life on the other side.

    All i can say is he will definitely be missed a lot but not forgotten!!

  22. May his soul rest in peace. We are all humans at the end of the day, things happen so quickly. Its funny that you dont become famous or known until a tragedy happens to you. If he were alive, I dont think anyone would have said boo about him.
    Let it be people, let the family grieve and let us all move on

  23. Think about it. How we react as humans when a tragedy occurs. If the family are upset with the police then so be it, but the rest of us, hmmm ask yourself do I even know the guy? Just pray for his soul and let the rest sort itself out. Sad thing is when we hurt someone we blame,blame,blame. Drugs or abused, but you did it.

  24. Im the fiance of tau n i wuld juz lyk 2 say thank you 2 the person that blogd dis i am 100% wiv you ! I am so angry at the police for taking my daughterz loving father away from us n nw shez neva gona knw waht great guy her father was . But if anyone wants to tel me themselves how they think about this than my bebo is nd thank you all for ur input

  25. I thought the police weren’t supposed to exaggerate these sorts of situations into sieges or chases. That’s why they don’t obviously surround bank hold-ups any more, so innocent people don’t get in the way. They should have chased at a distance.

  26. With respect and condolences Stefanie,

    The person totally responsible for the grief you are suffering is called Stephen Hohepa McDonald.

    Without his criminal and P fuelled actions your fiance and your daughters father would still be with you.

    RIP Tau, and all the best for you and your daughters future Stephanie.

  27. I agree 100% with Gerrit…

    All my sympathies are with you, Stefanie, and your daughter, and Halatau’s family. You are all in my thoughts at this time.

    But the person to blame here, is Stephen McDonald.

  28. “”””But bear in mind you are about 1000 times more likely to be killed in your home, on the street or in your work place due to criminal activity, than you are due to police action.””””

    especially if you live in New Plymouth where the totally worthless pigs IGNORED the CRIMINAL evidence against Dow, forcing people to stay in evacuatable homes.

    In New Plymouth New Zealand you are 1000’s of times more likely to die from police inaction than anything else, and that is Criminal.

  29. i believe the police need too take into action whats happened with the family nnnaaahhh i dnt knw wat im on about

  30. all gud eah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    dnt trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  31. innoect man shot by cop,cop will not be charged.two friends go hunting friend shots mate charged.this is not good,the police racing around chasing a p freak out law for the cops one for the public.fuck the police thay are profesional liars,i have see them put there hand on the bible and lie.i hop the family sue the police set up a trust fund ill put moneyin for lawyers.kev.

  32. Given that the chase was brought to a halt by the police, and not by Mcdonald pulling quietly over to the side of the motorway, i have to ask why 3, 4, 5, or 6 of the many police cars following, or chasing mcdonald did not smash into mcdonald’s car, render him sensless by there impact and stop him in his stolen car. at the very least having police vechiles hard up against the stolen car would have stopped him being able to quickly escape the car ,cross the medium barrier, run between the traffic which the police so conveniantly stopped, that mcdonald could climb aboard the stationary flat deck truck. instead they chose to stop 100 meters away and watch, and see there mates who stopped the traffic shoot an innocent bystander. crap policing and crappy police.


  34. Hala worked at the Fiddler on the weekends as a bouncer with Kep and was a really fun person to be around nd very cheeky.. Miss him heaps cant believe its been a year this month.. RIP




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