The family of a 27-year-old man who was shot and killed by a Honolulu police officer two years ago is suing the city for wrongful death.
Dana Brown was shot and killed at Campbell Industrial Park on Dec. 17, 2019 by a 13-year HPD veteran assigned to District 8 after the officer saw Brown driving his moped on the wrong side of the road, then-Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said at the time, adding that he had an outstanding warrant for abuse of a family member and the moped he was riding was reported stolen.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Megan Kau last week on behalf of Brown’s parents, sister and partner, alleges that the officer violated Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights that protect individuals from illegal search and seizures and false arrests. The complaint also accuses the officer, who has not been named, of assault and battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“Defendant’s actions were extremely outrageous and malicious because the shooting was not justified and/or was done with reckless disregard of Dana’s constitutional rights,” the complaint alleges.
Video showing the moments before Brown was shot in the torso was captured on the officer’s body-worn camera and released to the public after the shooting.
The footage shows the officer approaching Brown with his gun drawn shouting repeatedly “put the knife down,” and “get on the ground.”
Brown is then seen lifting the moped’s front tire off the ground with both hands twice while the officer tells him to “put the knife down.” Brown then begins rummaging through the moped’s seat compartment while holding a silver object that appears to be a knife in his right hand.
Throughout the video, Brown is seen ignoring the officer’s orders. The officer also appears to fire his taser twice at Brown, but misses, before pointing his handgun at Brown.
Brown then starts the moped’s engine and the officer fires three shots.
Ballard said that the footage does not capture the moment Brown lunged at the officer with the knife.
After the officer fired the trio of shots, Brown can be seen sitting on the ground while the officer repeatedly tells him to “get on the ground.”
Paramedics arrived a short time later and transported Brown to Queen’s Medical Center West, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint says that an autopsy confirmed that Brown died from a gunshot wound to the torso.
Kau, a former prosecutor, sent a letter to Prosecuting Attorney Steven Alm in April 2021 requesting that Alm’s office reexamine the shooting to determine whether the case should be prosecuted.
“We understand that the prior administration may have reviewed the matter, but we urge this new administration to re-review the case, especially in light of the national climate regarding police officer shootings,” the letter dated April 23 says.
Kau, who did not comment on the lawsuit because it is still pending, told Civil Beat that she has not yet heard from Alm regarding her letter.
According to Matthew Dvonch, special counsel to the prosecuting attorney, the shooting is still under review by Alm’s office.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Not a subscription
Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.