Two years after it was created by the Legislature, the state’s police fatalities board has released the findings in its first case to the public.
The board unanimously recommended against prosecuting three Big Island police officers who in July 2018 shot and killed a murder suspect after he fired at them while hiding underneath a blanket in the bed of a pickup truck.
The officers were part of a team working a checkpoint and screening vehicles for Justin Waiki, who was suspected in the murder of Hawaii County police officer Bronson Kaliloa.
The Law Enforcement Officer Independent Review Board, which reviews police actions resulting in fatalities and makes recommendations to state prosecutors, decided at a public meeting last month to release the recommendation in its entirety. The report was dated March 19, 2019 — nearly one year ago.
The report details the events surrounding the officer-involved shooting and discusses the basis for the board’s decision to recommend against prosecution.
Hawaii County police set up a vehicle checkpoint to search for Waiki, who was a fugitive at that point, the report said. Waiki was hiding underneath a blanket in the bed of a Toyota 4Runner and fired two shots at officers, one of which struck Sgt. Bryan Tina in the upper right chest.
Officer Kevin Brodie returned fire and shot into the blanket, according to the report. Two other officers, Patrick Aurello and Wayne Kennison, also fired into the truck, the report said.
Waiki’s body, still covered in the blanket, rolled out of the back of the car.
“Retreat was not a viable option because Waiki was armed with a firearm, had fired two shots, and was in close proximity to all police officers,” the board wrote in its recommendation.
A woman hiding under the blanket with Waiki was also shot in the leg.
Police recovered what turned out to be a stolen pistol from under the blanket.
Read the board’s report:
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