22 Jul 2021

Police killer claims firing on second officer was only to scare him

11:46 am on 22 July 2021

The man who shot and killed police officer Matthew Hunt says it's a "coincidence" he managed to hit a second officer David Goldfinch four times.

Eli Epiha on trial at the Auckland High Court.

Eli Epiha on trial at the Auckland High Court. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Eli Epiha has been under cross-examination in the High Court in Auckland, where he has pleaded guilty to the murder of Hunt and dangerous driving, but denies the attempted murder of Goldfinch, after fleeing a routine traffic stop in Massey and crashing into a parked car and a bystander last June.

Yesterday he explained he had put two guns in his car, intending to scare gang members away from a family member's house.

Today he denied choosing the more "efficient" of the two weapons - the Norinco - when an officer approached him, saying it was simply the closest.

"I didn't know if it was a semi-automatic or an automatic at the time," he said.

"It just looked scary."

The Crown says Epiha fired 10 shots at Goldfinch as the officer ran and hid behind a car, but Epiha said five of the shots "weren't really in his direction" and he wasn't shooting to kill.

He told Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey he only wanted to scare Goldfinch away and didn't know the officer had been hit.

"I just didn't think that I got him. It's not a PlayStation game. You just don't know if someone gets hit," he said.

Epiha wasn't able to explain why he then shot Matthew Hunt - and initially declined to talk about the murder.

But urged by Justice Venning to answer the questions, Epiha explained he wasn't expecting a second police officer and got a big fright.

"I didn't think," he said.

Epiha said he considered Hunt's pleas for assistance as the injured officer lay on the road.

"He asked me for help. I thought about it for a few seconds," he said.

"I was thinking about chucking him in the police car and taking him to hospital."

His words prompted audible sighs from Hunt's friends in the public gallery.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey put it to Epiha that there was a "swagger" in his walk, in videos taken moments after the shooting, showing him leaving the scene.

"I wasn't thinking about swagger," he said.

"What I was thinking is 'this is surreal. Is this actually happening'."

Epiha is the only witness to speak for the defence.

The Crown is expected to give their closing address later today.

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