The Honolulu City Council is considering hiring the Law Offices of Cary T. Tanaka to defend city Corporation Counsel Donna Leong in a lawsuit brought by the family of Sheldon Haleck, who died in police custody earlier this year.
A resolution that’s on Wednesday’s City Council meeting agenda would authorize up to $50,000 to be spent in Leong’s defense at a rate of $185 per hour.
The resolution states that a potential conflict of interest exists if the city Office of the Corporation Counsel were to defend Leong, a defendant along with Police Chief Louis Kealoha.
As Civil Beat’s Nick Grube previously reported:
Sheldon Haleck had his hands up, palms open when a Honolulu police officer fired the first set of Taser barbs into his chest the evening of March 16. Soon after, as Haleck was walking away from the cop who shot him, another pair of electrified barbs arched toward his back.
Within seconds Haleck, 38, was on the ground, screaming, with several officers holding him down to put him in handcuffs and leg shackles. He died the next day in a hospital.
He was high on methamphetamine and, according to an autopsy report, the physical exertion was too much for his body. Honolulu’s medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, finding that if the officers hadn’t forced Haleck into submission he might still be alive.
Sheldon Haleck was a honorably discharged from the Hawaii Air National Guard after 15 years of service, according to family attorneys. He suffered from mental illness and had a history of drug use.