A 34-year-old man has died after Honolulu police officers fired multiple shots in a Kalihi car dealership Monday morning following an across-town chase starting in Pearl City.
This is the eighth police officer-involved shooting this year, and the second one this month. Just last week, a HPD officer shot at a man who he said tried to run him over during a traffic stop. It’s the fourth fatal shooting of the year by police.
The police did not identify the deceased suspect or a second person who was in the vehicle during the police pursuit.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said at a press conference Monday afternoon that around 10 a.m., police received reports of two men wearing ski masks in a Pearl City Sam’s Club parking lot.
Ballard said they were suspected of a theft scheme, but that they were not committing a crime at the time.
Officers with the Crime Reduction Unit went to the scene in an unmarked vehicle and ordered them to get out of their car, but the suspects ignored them, rammed their vehicle into the officer’s vehicle and headed toward the freeway, Ballard said.
The suspect drove erratically, which prompted HPD officers to cease their pursuit and follow at a safe distance, she said. Then a police helicopter joined the chase and observed the passenger exit the car in Aiea, she said.
The passenger, who had seven felony convictions, was picked up, taken into custody and questioned, Ballard said. But he refused to give a statement and was later released.
“This is getting nuts.” — HPD Chief Susan Ballard
The suspect left the car on North King and Middle streets and fled on foot, she said. Two Honolulu police officers chased him on foot, at which point the man fell down and opened fire.
Ballard said the officers feared for their lives and fired back, but the suspect got up and continued to get away down North King Street to the New City Nissan dealership in Kalihi.
He then turned and pointed his firearm again at the officers, she said. Officers fired multiple shots, striking him.
The man was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, she said.
The chief said the deceased suspect had two felony convictions, as well as a federal probation violation.
The officers involved in the shootings had between six and 20 years of experience with HPD, she said. They will be offered three days paid administrative leave per HPD policy.
“This is getting nuts,” Ballard said, responding to a reporter’s question about gun crimes increasing in the city.
“This is Hawaii. We’re not used to this,” she added.
These types of situations make the officers more “vigilant,” Ballard said.
“Public safety is our top priority,” the chief said, adding that the officers were trained to assess the situation.
Witnesses at the scene were uploading live videos of the shooting at the car dealership, where employees and customers were in close proximity at the time of the incident.
Police have no footage of their own, however. She said there are no dashboard or body-worn camera footage of the chase or firearm discharges.
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