Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm announced Tuesday that no charges will be filed against a Honolulu police officer involved in the deadly shooting of 27-year-old Dana Brown following an attempted traffic stop in 2019. Alm cited the officer’s body camera footage and witness statements as clear evidence that the use of force was justified.

“The police officer gave Mr. Brown every chance to stop, get on the ground and give up. He made many, many verbal commands to get him to drop the knife and lay down on the ground,” Alm said.

“Mr. Brown ignored all of those instructions. It was only when Mr. Brown lunged at Officer 1 that Officer 1 shot him and killed him,” he said. “There is only one person responsible for Mr. Brown’s death and, however tragic that was, it’s Mr. Brown’s fault.”

Steve Alm, Honolulu County Prosecuting Attorney, Officer Shooting justified
Honolulu County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm explains why he believes the police shooting of 27-year-old Dana Brown was justified. David Croxford/Civil Beat/2022

Shortly after midnight on Dec. 17, 2019, the Honolulu police officer Alm referred to as Officer 1 — the prosecutor would not identify the officer in question — was on patrol in the Kapolei area when he saw two scooters driving recklessly. The officer gave chase and caught up with Brown after he got stuck on a mound at the edge of Kalealoa Point Harbor near Campbell Industrial Park.

The officer switched on his body camera and pursued Brown on foot. He ordered Brown several times to stop and lie on the ground. Instead, according to HPD, Brown gripped a knife and refused to comply.

Alm said the officer twice used his stun gun in an attempt to subdue Brown, but Brown was able to remove the prongs.

A witness was sitting in a car nearby while her boyfriend was fishing in the harbor, according to the report. The witness said she heard the officer shouting commands for Brown to get on the ground, saw Brown being tased, and called 911. Her boyfriend also heard the confrontation and witnessed the stun gun being fired. He saw Brown lunge toward the officer and heard three gunshots, according to the report.

“The officer was very patient with it. He was putting himself at risk being that close. The officer kept giving him chances until there was the lunge and he shot him. The bottom line is he didn’t listen to all the instructions to stop, put the knife down and get down on the ground,” Alm said. “He would have been arrested for reckless driving and maybe resisting arrest.”

The investigation concluded that the use of deadly force by the officer was in self-defense and justified, and no charges will be filed against the officer involved.

Mary Brown, Dana Brown’s mother, said she is disappointed in the prosecutor’s report and believes the shooting was unjustified. She said her son was a good family man and the father of two children. She would not comment further due to a pending lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Megan Kau in December on behalf of Brown’s parents, sister and partner, and alleges that the officer violated Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights that protect individuals from illegal search and seizure 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.

Honolulu Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Masahiko Kobayashi conducted Brown’s autopsy. Kobayashi determined that Brown was shot three times, and one shot to his chest was fatal. A toxicology screen revealed the presence of methamphetamine and amphetamine in Brown’s system.

Dana Brown
Dana Brown died of a gunshot wound to the torso on Dec. 17, 2019. Hawaii News Now

Brown had 24 prior arrests and two convictions. The convictions were in 2019 for unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle in the second degree and theft in the fourth degree.

The police officer joined HPD in 2006 and has no prior sustained use of force or use of deadly force investigations, according to the report. He does not have a criminal record.

“We have to remember that officers have to deal with what no doubt is some trauma on killing another person,” Alm said. “It’s not their choice. They are forced into a situation like this and they have to live with it. They know they did the right thing and we are verifying that they did the right thing today, but that is something that police officers have to live with. It is a dangerous and tough job.”

It has been more than 30 years since a Honolulu police officer was prosecuted for killing a suspect in the line of duty.

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