If you’re going to smoke meth, steal a car and try to stab a cop, make sure the police shoot you before they slap on the cuffs.

That way you can get thousands of dollars from Hawaii taxpayers to pay your medical bills, buy more drugs and get a new Slim Jim.

House reps are set to hear a bill Thursday that includes a $35,000 settlement for a guy who claimed his civil rights were violated in a Feb. 19, 2011, incident near the Honolulu Airport. 

If you ask James Fontanilla, he’ll tell you he was high on crystal meth driving a stolen a car when he noticed a sheriff’s deputy in pursuit on H-1. Fontanilla jumped out of the car at the Kunia exit and tried to jump a fence, but failed to clear it so he started running away.

While fleeing, Fontanilla told the court that the deputy, Kraig Massey, shot him in the butt and then wrestled him to the ground and arrested him.

But if you ask Massey, he was chasing Fontanilla on foot when the suspect turned around and tried to steal his gun. Fontanilla grabbed the deputy’s knife instead and started to run away again, but then turned and threatened Massey with it.

Massey told the court a lot of things happened at once in that critical moment: he lost his footing on the embankment, fired his weapon and Fontanilla turned his back. Massey didn’t realize he’d shot Fontanilla in the butt, but proceeded to tackle him and make the arrest.

Fontanilla filed the civil case against Massey and the State of Hawaii on Oct. 25, 2012 in district court. 

Given the markedly different accounts of the events and lack of eye witnesses, a settlement agreement was reached. Before the state pays the $35,000 though, the Legislature has to approve it.

This is the latest settlement to be added to the claims bill. As of last week, the request now totals $1.32 million for 18 claims. 

Read Civil Beat‘s past coverage of claims here.

Nathan Eagle

Photo: State of Hawaii’s sheriff’s department patch, old style. (Dave Conner via Flickr)