17 Aug 2015

Court rejects compo for police shooting

7:12 pm on 17 August 2015

The High Court has thrown out a bid for compensation from an innocent bystander who the police shot and wounded on an Auckland motorway.

Richard Neville was driving his truck along Auckland's north-western motorway when he was hit by shots fired by police.

They were chasing the fugitive gunman Stephen McDonald in 2009.

Officers also shot and killed another bystander, Halatau Naitoko, who was 17.

Mr Neville was trying to sue under the Bill of Rights, claiming he had the right to not face severe treatment by the police.

But the Attorney-General applied to have the claim struck out, which the High Court has done.

Justice Venning said while his injuries could not be discounted, other factors such as the emergency situation needed to be taken into account.

"The police identified Mr McDonald as presenting a risk to life and the public in general and in that sense the actions of shooting at him can be seen as proportionate," Justice Venning said.

"I do not consider the treatment of Mr Neville by the State, if indeed there was such treatment in this case, can be said to be disproportionately severe.

"The police action cannot be categorised as treating Mr Neville as less than human," the judge said in a written decision.

He said he could have pursued a claim for exemplary damages for personal injury after he was shot, but he did not.

"Mr Neville could have pursued such a claim within two years of the incident or, with leave of the court, within six years.

"For whatever reason Mr Neville did not bring such a claim," Justice Venning said.

Mr Neville said when he took his case to the High Court that he felt like the little guy throwing stones at the Goliath-like police force.

He said last month the long-term effects of being shot by police would get worse as he got older.

"Because I have lots of parts of foreign particles in my body - lead and glass and tungston and copper - all of these things are not good," he said outside court at the time.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs