Court rules against claims Police fired gunshots at vehicle

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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SUPREME COURT JUDGE: Justice Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke.

SUPREME COURT JUDGE: Justice Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke. (Photo: File)

The Supreme Court has rejected claims that the Police had fired gunshots towards a vehicle driven by a man who then crashed into the Police cars during an incident in 2015.

In the Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke, rejected the claims made by Laki Jr. Nauer. 

Nauer has already pleaded guilty to intentional damage, dangerous driving and unlicensed driving in relation to the incident.

But prior to his sentence, he disputed the summary of facts, accusing the Police of shooting at him first.

The Prosecutor was Lucy Sio from the Attorney General’s Office.

“Having heard the evidence, I accept that no gun was carried in POL57 and no shots fired by POL57 or any of those officers,” Justice Lei’ataualesa said.

“I also do not accept that any shot was fired from either the Special Response Unit vehicle or the Forensic vehicle."

“Corporal Avei and Constable Faletolu and Kolisi saw no shot fired, they did not see any guns, nor they did hear any gunshot despite their location. 

Constable Afereti said this Forensic vehicle did not carry any guns, and I accept that evidence.”

The incident occurred on 2 August 2015.

“On the 13th July 2017 the accused accepted the summary of facts but said the Suzuki vehicle registration 14223, that he had been driving had been shot at by police causing steam to come from the engine causing the Suzuki to collide with the police vehicle POL57,” the Court heard.

“During the evidence prosecution called four witnesses, three of these witnesses were Corporal Avei Avei, Constables Alisi Faletolu and Kolisi Tupu were in POL57. They are police officers attached to the traffic section of the Ministry of Police."

“The fourth witness Constable Junior Afereti was a member of the Forensic Unit but is now attached with the Tactical Operation Squad.”

The Court heard that the Police responded to a call for assistance at Alafua close to the U.S.P.

“Corporal Avei Avei, Constables Alisi Faletolu and Kolisi Tupu were in POL57 and they were the last car to arrive. Before them was a Special Response Unit Hilux and a Forensic Jeep.”

The Court heard Nauer’s vehicle came towards the POL57 vehicle with its lights turned off.

“It went passed the two front vehicles, the Hilux and the Forensic Jeep." 

“The Suzuki then struck the right side of POL57 and continued on leaving the scene.”

Fearing for their lives, none of the officers exited the vehicle.

 “None of these officers in POL57 saw any police officers outside of their police vehicles in front of them nor did they hear any gun shots. No other police officers were seen with a gun at the scene that night."

“Constable Alisi Faletolu also examined the Suzuki later that night and did not observe any damage of the Suzuki from any gun shots.”

According to Nauer, the Suzuki suffered damage to the front license plate, grill, radiator and air condition unit. He said that the gunshot was fired when he passed the second police car.

But Justice Lei’ataualesa was not convinced.

“There is no evidence of shots that was fired by any officers attached to the Special Response Unit now known as the Tactical Operation Squad."

“That vehicle was behind the accused vehicle at the time the accused alleges the gun shot was fired hitting the front of the Suzuki."

“When examining the Suzuki after it was brought to the police station, Constable Faletolu did not see any gunshot damage on the Suzuki."

“There are no bullets, no bullet fragrant nor any gunshot damage noticeable on the photos of Exhibit B1."

On evidence before the Court, Justice Lei’ataualesa rejected the claim that the Suzuki was fired at by the Police.

The matter has been set for sentencing on 23 August 2017.

Nauer is remanded in custody.

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