The department is now turning its attention to incidents that predate the election of the Prosecuting Attorney.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said Friday that he would not bring charges against the two police officers who shot and killed a man who was resisting arrest in 2020.

Dallas Pearce, who had pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, was serving his sentence at the Laumaka Work Furlough facility until he “failed to return” in November, 2019, a press release from Alm’s office said.

Two HPD officers found him Jan. 6, 2020, in Kaneohe, and tried to arrest him but he resisted.

When he reached into his pocket for what police thought was a gun, an HPD sergeant shot him multiple times and the other officer shot him once. Pearce died an hour later.

“While tragic, the shooting was justified,” Alm said in the press release. “The officers acted in self-defense. They had reason to believe they were protecting themselves from death or serious bodily injury.”

What appeared to be a firearm was in fact a .177-caliber airgun, according to an investigation by Alm’s office.

Police thought Pearce had a firearm; it was a .177-caliber pellet gun. (Provided/Department of the Prosecuting Attorney)

The investigation concluded that the officers believed Pearce might shoot and kill or otherwise injure one of them with it.

It took three years to reach this point because Alm “has now gone back to take a look at” times police shot people before he was an elected officer, department spokesperson Brooks Baehr said.

Alm had initially focused on those that occurred since his election, Baehr said.

The HPD sergeant was previously the subject of two use of force or deadly force investigations, each of which left him with a one-day suspension in 2008 and 2010, according to the investigation.

The officer had no such record, the investigation said.

The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney did not identify the officers in the incident.

Pearce died with three gunshots in his back, one in his arm, and one in his abdomen, a forensic pathologist found, according to the prosecutor’s office. A toxicologist found methamphetamine in Pearce’s blood, the investigation said.

‘Shoot Him, Shoot Him’

The fatal encounter began at a Kailua condominium complex known as Aikahi Gardens.

Pearce was convicted of first-degree burglary on April 11, 2012, court records show. His sentence was five years probation. The court later changed that to 10 years in prison. Pearce entered the work furlough program in 2019 “over the objections of the State,” the prosecutor’s investigation said.

When Pearce did not return to his program on Nov. 19, 2019, the state sheriffs filed a report that he had escaped. Eight days later, the HPD District 4 Crime Reduction Unit sergeant who later shot Pearce filed a similar report with an “Attempt to Locate status,” the investigation said.

Dallas Pearce absconded from a work furlough program in November 2019. He died in January 2020.
(Provided/Department of the Prosecuting Attorney)

More than a month later, on Jan. 6, 2020, the District 4 CRU learned that Pearce was seeing a woman who lived at Aikahi Gardens. The two officers who would later shoot Pearce then “began to make checks” in the area.

Two plainclothes officers and ballistic vests labeled “police” drove a cop car to the condominium complex, where they saw a parked car with Pearce behind the wheel, the investigation said.

The sergeant noticed the man reaching for his right pocket and recognized him as Pearce. The other officer was trying to pull Pearce out of the car.

Pearce continued to resist their attempts to arrest him, when then the officer said, “He’s got a gun,” according to the investigation. The sergeant responded by punching Pearce’s head.

The officer said, “I’m losing him … shoot him, shoot him,” according to the investigation, so the sergeant pulled his gun.

“Fearing for his life and Officer 1’s life,” the sergeant shot into Pearce’s back multiple times. The sergeant then called an ambulance.

The sergeant recovered “what appeared to be a black semi-automatic handgun,” the investigation report said.

He checked the bottom of the gun where a magazine would have been inserted but instead “noticed there was a hatch where a CO2 cartridge would be inserted and realized that the ‘handgun’ was either a pellet gun or airsoft gun,” investigators found.

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