Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm says the officers who shot a knife-wielding man near Ala Moana Center were justified in their use of force.

Alm held a press conference Monday morning to discuss his office’s investigation into the officers who shot 48-year-old Ricky Kaleopaa on Jan. 24 near the intersection of Kono Iki and Kona streets.

“The use of deadly force that resulted in the shooting of Mr. Kaleopaa was justified,” Alm said. “Second, no charges will be filed against the two Honolulu police officers who shot Mr. Kaleopaa.”

Officers initially responded to the scene after HPD received at least two calls reporting a man with a knife and a suspected stabbing, Alm said.

Alm presented surveillance video and body cam footage of the moments that led to the shooting, which showed one officer telling Kaleopaa to drop the 11.5-inch knife at least 25 times.

During the brief standoff, another officer tried to position himself to use a taser on Kaleopaa, but the officer’s shot was obstructed because Kaleopaa was wearing both a backpack on his back and a sling bag on the front of his torso, Alm said.

Meanwhile, a third officer was instructed to retrieve a less-than-lethal bean bag shotgun from the trunk of the first officer’s vehicle, according to Alm. In the body cam footage from the incident, the responding officer can be heard telling the other officer to get a key from his belt which would unlock the trunk.

However, while officers were working to deploy the nonlethal weapons, Kaleopaa charged at the group of officers with the knife raised above his head, Alm said.

The officers then fired at least nine shots and Kaleopaa was struck at least four times, according to Alm.

Officers on the scene provided first aid to Kaleopaa until EMS arrived. He was then taken to The Queen’s Medical Center, where he immediately underwent surgery. Kaleopaa was still receiving medical care at the hospital as of Monday, Alm said.

“The officers used multiple efforts of non-deadly force,” Alm said. “They talked to him over and over about putting the knife down more than 25 times. You could hear Officer One trying to talk him down, trying to engage in conversation, trying to deescalate the situation.”

Alm went on to commend the officers for their “textbook” response during the incident.

“They did everything right,” Alm said. “At all times they acted professionally. They didn’t get angry. They didn’t get frustrated because Mr. Kaleopaa wasn’t listening to their instructions. They were very patient trying to deal with it in a professional manner.”

Kaleopaa has since been charged with one count of attempted assault against a law enforcement officer, one count of attempted assault in the second degree, and one count of terroristic threatening in the first degree.

Each count is a class C penalty and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Following Alm’s Monday announcement, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers released a statement lauding Alm’s findings.

“Responding officers exhaustively attempted to de-escalate a quickly unfolding and violent incident orchestrated by an armed suspect, Mr. Kaleopaa,” SHOPO President Robert Cavaco said in the statement. “These officers were forced to take action to protect themselves and the public from a potentially lethal attack from the armed suspect. We agree with Prosecuting Attorney Alm that our officers’ actions were both legal and justified and this incident reinforces the danger our officers must confront each day to try and keep our communities safe.”

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