The Honolulu Police Department released video footage Tuesday showing two officers deploying their electric stun guns on Sheldon Haleck, who died in their custody March 16 shortly after being arrested.
Few details have been released about Haleck’s death by HPD or the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office, which had refused to release his autopsy results. The family is still trying to find out what actually happened the night Haleck, 38, died in police custody, a family attorney has said.
On Tuesday, the Medical Examiner’s Officer finally released the cause and manner of Haleck’s death, saying he died of “multiple metabolic and cardiac complications” following a physical altercation with police.
Sheldon Haleck on a police Taser video.
Honolulu Police Department
Contributing causes of death included cardiac hypertrophy; rhabdomyolysis with metabolic and respiratory acidosis; and acute renal failure.
The agency also said he was high on methamphetamine. It described his death as a “homicide,” which does not necessarily denote a crime.
The video footage, released under a public records request filed in March by Civil Beat, comes from two Taser-mounted cameras that recorded HPD officers trying to get Haleck on to a city sidewalk near Iolani Palace.
Police said in a press release after he died that Haleck had been “acting erratically” and running through the middle of the road around South King Street and Richard Street in dark-colored clothing. Officers pepper-sprayed Haleck, who was also described as “combative.” And they used Tasers in an attempt to subdue him.
The black-and-white videos show the moments before and after the Tasers are deployed, as well as his arrest. It doesn’t show the immediate aftermath in which police said he became unresponsive while being escorted to the sidewalk. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
In one video, officers can be heard yelling at Haleck to get on the sidewalk as he holds his hands out and says, “I’ll listen. I promise.” The second video shows Haleck screaming as he is being handcuffed face down on the street.
Civil Beat requested the Taser footage as part of a public records request submitted to HPD on March 20, four days after Haleck’s death. The department denied Civil Beat’s request, saying that it was part of an “ongoing investigation.”
Civil Beat filed a challenge with Hawaii Office of Information Practices, which oversees the state’s public records law.
HPD told OIP in a June 8 letter that it would release the footage, saying that the department “has previously released information about ongoing criminal investigations once it has determined that the release will not jeopardize the open, ongoing investigation.”
The case has not been referred to the Prosecutor’s Office, said spokeswoman Carol Nakamura.
Watch the videos here:
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