Five Honolulu police officers fatally shot a man suspected in a series of armed robberies at a Kapolei gas station Tuesday night.
The 30-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene after officers shot about 20 rounds at the man as he was driving his car at them, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Police found a gun in the suspect’s waistband, Ballard said.
The department did not immediately release the man’s name, but KITV reported that his family identified the deceased as Michael Kahalehoe of Waianae.
This incident marks the fifth HPD officer-involved shooting in 2019. In January, an officer fatally shot a man who drove toward him. The following month, there were two shootings — a fatal shooting involving a shoplifting suspect in Millilani and a shooting during a disturbance in Kakaako that critically wounded the suspect.
Last year, there were six fatal officer-involved shootings on Oahu.
The state established a law enforcement fatalities review board in 2017 specifically to review incidents such as this one. Its purpose is to independently review officer-involved deaths to increase transparency and to make recommendations to prosecutors’ offices on whether or not to press charges.
However, the board has completed only one investigation so far and has not decided on whether to release the findings of the investigation or its recommendations. That investigation involved an October 2017 incident where a former public safety officer was fatally shot by a Honolulu police officer.
It’s unclear when it will investigate any of the shootings by HPD officers that occurred this year, or any other case. The board currently has no scheduled meetings on the calendar.
One Suspect At Large
At about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Ballard said HPD Special Enforcement Detail officers in plain clothes followed a pair of suspects in a stolen vehicle to the gas station.
Those suspects had bench warrants issued against them — one for failure to appear for court and the other, who was shot, for violating the terms of his probation, Ballard said.
One suspect — later identified as 24-year-old Melvin Spillner — got out of the vehicle to fill up the tank, while the other remained in the driver’s seat, she said.
The officers approached the stolen vehicle and identified themselves, she said. Then the suspects immediately tried to run, and the driver began driving back and forth trying to leave the gas station.
In the process, the driver struck a police vehicle and grazed one of the officers, Ballard said. She said the officers fired because they feared for their lives.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, she said. An autopsy is pending.
Spillner, the passenger, was treated for minor injuries and taken into police custody, Ballard said. HPD has opened an investigation into attempted murder, vehicle theft, resisting arrest and contempt.
The police chief pointed out that the suspects had multiple convictions on their record. The driver had 17 convictions, six of which were felonies, while Spillner had six convictions, four of which were felonies, she said.
No officers were seriously wounded, she said. The officers, whose experience with the department range from five to 17 years, were all given three-day administrative leave, as is standard procedure. An internal investigation will follow.
“I just want you to remember that all this information is preliminary and it’s based on the facts that we have at this time,” she said. “Of course, things may change as the investigation continues.”
On top of the deceased suspect and the one in custody, there is another suspect at large, Ballard said at the news conference. Media reports are identifying that suspect as 25-year-old Victor Gascon III.
Ballard said police are also searching for the female driver of a black Honda vehicle who was at the Kapolei gas station during the incident. At this point, that driver is a “person of interest,” she said.
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