As an unarmed Constable Matthew Hunt lay dying on the ground, his killer said, “he asked me for help”.
“I thought about it. I was thinking about it for a few seconds,” Eli Epiha told the court today.
The 25-year-old’s admitted murdering Hunt on June 19 last year, but is on trial at the High Court in Auckland for attempting to murder Constable David Goldfinch that same day.
He’s faced further cross examination from the Crown today, after yesterday taking to the stand to share his recollection of the shooting.
After gunning down Hunt, he recalled, “I was thinking about chucking him in the police car and driving him down to Waitakere Hospital”.
There was a shocked, “ha!”, from some of those in the public gallery as Epiha made that comment.
He went on to say, “when I was looking down at him, that's when I start to hear sirens".
Epiha said he was focussed on getting away from the scene at that point, saying, “I had a son on the way and I just wanted to be around”.
The defendant was reluctant to discuss Hunt, refusing when first asked yesterday, and again today.
"I'm not prepared to discuss Officer Hunt,” he said.
But Justice Geoffrey Venning, presiding over the trial, told him he must answer the questions.
He then admitted to the court he first noticed Hunt after Goldfinch, who he shot at first, ran out of sight.
He testified that he was backing up towards his crashed car, wanting to get his second gun before he ran away, he said.
“That’s when I got a big fright, I didn’t know there was a second officer,” Epiha said.
“He was just there, standing by the boot, close to the boot of the car.”
Multiple witnesses then saw Epiha aim, focussing down the barrel, at Hunt.
But Epiha’s adamant, “they’ve misread the situation”.
“I was genuinely not aiming to kill him, just aiming in his general direction.”
He claims he didn’t think he’d hit him at first.
“It’s not a Play-Station game,” he said, “you don’t know if someone gets hit”.
He claimed it was only after his fourth shot at him, that “he was falling”.
“You’ve left him, after your 14th shot, Constable Hunt is lying on the ground isn’t he?” Crown lawyer Brian Dickey said.
“Yes,” Epiha replied.
“You just leave him there don’t you?” he’s asked.
“Yes,” he said again.
Dickey said, “Job done, so to speak?”
“I never considered it a job at all,” Epiha answered.
Asked about the 10 shots, the Crown says he fired at Goldfinch, the defendant was adamant, “I didn’t shoot any of the shots at him to kill him”.
The Crown replayed the CCTV footage captured on a nearby property, in which you can hear the incident unfolding.
Dickey argues you can hear Epiha, yelling “wooo”.
“That’s you building yourself up to do what you’re gonna do,” he said to the defendant.
Epiha denies that, but accepts you can hear Goldfinch in the video, pleading for the gunfire to stop.
The court heard he reckoned it was an accident that Goldfinch was hit at all.
“If he’d stumbled and fallen, you’d have shot him dead wouldn’t you?” Dickey said.
“Definitely not,” Epiha replied.
Woman who helped Epiha escape has charge reduced
Lawyers for the woman who drove Hunt’s killer away from the scene have successfully lobbied to have their client’s charge down-graded.
Natalie Bracken, 31, was charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder, following the fatal shooting on June 19 last year.
However, Hunt had not yet been officially declared dead at the time the defendant allegedly aided Epiha’s escape.
As a result, Venning, who’s presiding over the trial at the High Court in Auckland, has amended Bracken’s charge to, accessory after the fact of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The charge is regarding the wounding of Hunt, which led to his death.
Dickey, told the jury, “The case in respect of her doesn’t change. Not at all”.