Friday , July 23 2021

Auckland police shoot: Killer ‘very calm’ after shooting at officers, says witness



A witness to the murder of a police officer has described how the killer shot at a patrol car before quietly leaving.

Eli Bon Sauni Epiha, 25, has confessed to killing Constable Matthew Hunt with a military-style semi-automatic rifle, and dangerous driving caused injury to a member of the public in June 2020.

However, he denies that he tried to assassinate Hunt’s colleague Constable David Goldfinch.

Epiha is facing trial in Auckland High Court, along with Natalie Bracken, who after the murder has refused to be an accessory by helping Epiha prevent arrest.

READ MORE:
* Auckland police say ‘We are on fire’ – Matthew Hunt’s call for help before death
* Auckland police shoot: Man pleaded guilty to murder of Constable Matthew Hunt
* Police shoot in Auckland: Constable ‘never had a chance’, court hears

The scene of the fatal shooting of Constable Matthew Hunt in June 2020. Commitment, from left to right: Eli Bob Sauni Epiha, Natalie Bracken, Constable Matthew Hunt.

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The scene of the fatal shooting of Constable Matthew Hunt in June 2020. Commitment, from left to right: Eli Bob Sauni Epiha, Natalie Bracken, Constable Matthew Hunt.

On June 19, 2020, a dark purple Toyota, powered by Epiha, caught the attention of the two constables and was highlighted in the national intelligence system of the police.

The incident unfolded after Epiha, who was driving a Toyota and trying to evade the two officers, collided with another car in the suburb of Massey in West Auckland.

The crash injured a member of the public, who was then loading items into the car.

When an unarmed Goldfinch left the police car to approach the scene of the accident, Epiha opened fire, firing at him 10 times, former Crown prosecutor Alysha McClintock said.

Eli Epiha denies attempting to assassinate Constable David Goldfinch.

RYAN ANDERSON / Stuff

Eli Epiha denies attempting to assassinate Constable David Goldfinch.

Hunt was shot four times in the back.

The cousin of the man who was injured told the court on Wednesday that he saw Epiha “screaming” down the road and crashing into the car.

“I soon attended to my cousin who was lying face down on the ground,” the man said.

Epiha then went off with a gun, he told the court.

“He held a gun with both hands, and he grabbed the gun as if he was aiming.”

Constable Matthew Hunt was shot four times and died on the scene.

Police Ten 7 / Screentime

Constable Matthew Hunt was shot four times and died on the scene.

The shooter began firing at the police car, the man said.

He saw a policeman trying to protect himself, seems “very helpless”, he said.

The shooter then walked away “very calmly”, still holding the gun, he said.

Shooter walks away as ‘casual walk in the mall’

Police officers at Reynella Dr back in June 2020.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

Police officers at Reynella Dr back in June 2020.

Earlier on Wednesday, Jacob Mahia told the court he was sitting in his bedroom on Reynella Dr when he heard a car crash and went out to see his mother’s partner, Samuel Menzies.

Within seconds, he heard loud bangs.

“It was bang, bang, bang, bang,” Mahia said.

Mahia and Menzies pulled her back into the house, slammed the doors and closed the curtains with his mother ringing the police.

Menzies saw a woman waving her arms, and tried to catch Epiha’s attention.

Defense attorney Adam Couchman represents Natalie Bracken.

RYAN ANDERSON / Stuff

Defense attorney Adam Couchman represents Natalie Bracken.

“It was a panic wave … trying to get this man’s attention to follow her. He walked away calmly,” Menzies said.

Menzies said it was as if Epiha was taking a casual walk around the mall.

Living at another address on Reynella Dr was Marcus Tiatia.

Tiatia’s older brother was in a relationship with Bracken at the time.

Tiatia told prosecutor Brian Dickey he heard gunshots, heard Goldfinch say “stop it” and ran past the back of his property with a frightened look in his eye.

It is alleged that Natalie Bracken drove Eli Epiha away from the shooting range.

RYAN ANDERSON / Stuff

It is alleged that Natalie Bracken drove Eli Epiha away from the shooting scene.

He then walked back to his house, followed by Bracken.

“She asked if I had my keys and I did not answer.”

When he got outside, his silver Mazda had disappeared, he said.

Tiatia’s partner Eyisha Warren-Hetherington told the court in tears that Epiha asked her and her partner to drive him away before Bracken got the keys.

“He aimed a gun at us,” she said.

Warren-Hetherington told prosecutor Epiha was looking for a car to jump into.

Before the trial in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Justice Geoffrey Venning reminded jurors not to pay attention to news media and social media after TikTok videos emerged referring to Hunt and Epiha.

“I have seen the articles, and they are genuinely childish and sensitive … there is no mention of jurors or other people involved in the case,” Justice Venning said.

The process continues.


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