The family of a man shot and killed by a Honolulu police officer on Oahu’s North Shore two years ago has filed a lawsuit against the department, saying the shooting was unjustified.

Cameron Johnson, 29, was in what police said was a stolen vehicle at Malaekahana Beach Park in Laie on Jan. 13, 2017, when a police officer approached the truck.

Police later told reporters at a news conference that Johnson drove the vehicle into the officer, who then opened fire. Police said a passenger in the truck ran off.

A Honolulu police officer shot and killed Cameron Johnson in January 2017 at Malaekahana Beach Park.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

But the lawsuit says Johnson was alone in the vehicle and that he did not run into the officer. Instead, witnesses said, the officer had a brief conversation with Johnson at the driver’s side window, took a step back and started firing, according to the complaint filed Thursday in federal court.

The vehicle, which was parked on a slight incline, began to roll slowly backward and the officer continued to walk alongside and fire into the truck, the complaint says.

Johnson was hit several times, including in the torso and in the back, the lawsuit says.

Michelle Yu, a spokeswoman for HPD, said Friday the department is currently reviewing the matter.

But Michael Green, the attorney representing Johnson’s estate, had a lot to say about what he sees as a clear case of police wrongdoing.

“There’s all kinds of witnesses,” Green said Friday. “They were watching this officer walk next to the car and shooting.”

The witnesses were positioned directly behind Johnson’s vehicle, some seated and others standing, so they had a clear view of what was going on, he said.

Green said the engine wasn’t even running on the vehicle when the shooting occurred, so the police version that Johnson drove into the officer doesn’t hold up.

Green said Johnson was shot six times, including twice in the back.

It was Johnson’s 29th birthday.

The police officer is not identified in the lawsuit, which names the City and County of Honolulu and “Officer Doe” as plaintiffs. Green said the specific officer will be added to the case later.

This news can't wait.

Every day, journalists in nonprofit newsrooms like Civil Beat dig deeper into the raw news of the day to deliver in-depth and investigative reporting that engages communities, advances solutions, and demands accountability. This news can’t wait. So why would you?

Give today and NewsMatch will double the impact of your donation. We’ll even throw in a limited-edition Civil Beat t-shirt!

About the Author