20 Dec 2010

Veteran cop faults police for motorway pursuit

8:07 pm on 20 December 2010

A policeman of nearly 40 years' experience has criticised the actions of officers who mistakenly shot a teenager while in pursuit of a gunman.

Former superintendent Neville Matthews has been giving evidence at an inquest into the death of Halatau Naitoko, who was killed on Auckland's north-western motorway in January last year.

Mr Matthews says it's his very clear view that the police pursuit of the gunman, Stephen McDonald, should have been abandoned.

The Armed Offenders Squad should not have tried to stop McDonald on the motorway, he says, as they didn't have enough staff to pull off the manoeuvre.

Saying that the squad just assumed McDonald would give up when confronted, Mr Matthews has accused them of not having a plan B.

However, the officer who oversaw the chase that day, Inspector William Taylor, says he would have failed in his duty if he'd allowed the gunman to flee.

Had McDonald gone on to harm one or more members of the public, he says, he (Mr Taylor) would have suffered even greater criticism.

The inquest has reconvened at the coroner's request for more information.