1 Jun 2014

Family awaiting answers on cell death

11:04 am on 1 June 2014

The family of a South Auckland man is still waiting for answers over his death - three months after he died in a police cell.

Sentry Taitoko, who was 20, died at the Manukau police station in February.

The police say he died of respiratory problems, despite no history of such a condition.

Family lawyer and long-time civil rights campaigner Peter Williams, QC, said Mr Taitoko's family was grieving, and he could not give them any information.

"Three months on and the family still have not been given a cogent explanation for what occured," Mr Williams said.

"The family are grieving. I was sitting with the mother and father, and I saw the tears and the sorrow."

Mr Williams said he had written to the police asking for post-mortem reports but had had no meaningful answers.

"When any member of our society dies, particularly in these circumstances, we as a community want the answers.

"We're not a communist state. We are a democracy."

A police spokesperson said the cause of death would be determined by a Coroner.

The Coroner's office said its inquiry would begin once an investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority had concluded.