A state deputy sheriff shot a man Monday night during a physical altercation on the west side of the Capitol grounds, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

The man later died, while the deputy was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure, Nolan Espinda, director of the state Department of Public Safety, said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The man had an open container of alcohol and had been drinking, Espinda said, adding the deputy instructed him several times to throw away the alcohol and leave the Capitol grounds after encountering him at about 8:20 p.m.

Hawaii Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda speaks to news reporters in Honolulu on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 about a deputy sheriff that shot and killed a man during a struggle at the state Capitol the night before. The state Department of Public Safety says the deputy sheriff was conducting routine patrols at the Capitol in downtown Honolulu Monday night when he encountered a man with a bottle of alcohol. Hawaii News Now reports Honolulu police say the man was "physically combative" with the deputy despite numerous warnings. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)
Hawaii Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda speaks to the media Tuesday about a fatal shooting involving a deputy sheriff on the Capitol grounds Monday night. AP

The man then attacked the deputy, and the two were involved in what Espinda described as an “extreme struggle.”

At one point, the deputy held the man in a headlock, Espinda said. Ultimately, the deputy fired his gun into the man’s torso “in fear of additional, imminent danger,” Espinda said. He declined to identify the man or say how many times he was shot.

Other deputy sheriffs responded and performed CPR on the man until emergency personnel arrived.

The altercation was not captured on security cameras, Espinda said.

The medical examiner is still determining the man’s cause of death, Espinda said.

The deputy, who has been with the department since May 2017, has been placed on restrictive duty.

Espinda declined to say how many deputy sheriffs were at the Capitol on Monday night, but he said they were fully staffed.

Deputies do not carry Tasers or wear body cameras, but are equipped with pepper spray, a baton and handcuffs, Espinda said.

Espinda said that the department evaluates its procedures after every incident to determine if there are any gaps in coverage. The department is still reviewing this incident. 

Lawmakers are considering a measure that would force the state to consider various safety options around the Capitol and Washington Place, the governor’s residence. House Bill 1488 would require the state to create a safety plan that includes measures to screen visitors, restrict parking, and move public parking from the current underground garage to another location.

It would also task the state with making plans for a new underground parking garage under the current location of Kinau Hale, the building housing the state Department of Health. The bill also calls for Kinau Hale’s demolition.

The House Finance Committee will hear the bill Thursday.

About the Author