Dana Brown was a motor scooter rider killed following a traffic stop and pursuit in Kapolei.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect the City Council’s unanimous approval of the resolution.

The Honolulu City Council approved private legal representation for a police officer named as a codefendant in a wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by the victim’s family.

A resolution to that effect was on the council agenda for adoption Wednesday.

Grant Robello, identified in the resolution as the officer involved, shot and killed 27-year-old Dana Brown at Campbell Industrial Park after an attempted traffic stop in December 2019.

AXON HPD Body camera footage from the Campbell Industrial Park officer involved shooting.
HPD body camera footage from the Campbell Industrial Park showed the shooting of Dana Brown was justified, an investigation by the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney found. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021)

The lawsuit’s major claims are that Robello violated Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights and caused his wrongful death.

It alleges six other counts in the complaint.

Robello was first identified as the officer in December in an updated court filing that also named the City and County of Honolulu.

Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm declined to press criminal charges against Robello in September, saying body camera footage of the incident and witness statements showed the use of force was justified, and in self-defense.

The city determined there was a conflict of interest in defending the officer and itself, according to the resolution, and justified the use of a private attorney. Both the Honolulu Police Commission and City Council needed to approve external representation for Robello for the case to move forward.

Robert Cavaco, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said, “When faced with civil litigation as a result of performing in the scope of their police duties, police officers are afforded legal representation by the City and County of Honolulu as provided by law.”

Neither Dana Brown’s family or council member Tyler Dos Santos-Tam — the resolution’s sponsor — responded to a request for comment.

Dana Brown
Dana Brown died of a gunshot wound to the torso on Dec. 17, 2019. (Provided)

The lawsuit appears to be moving forward after lengthy delays, including Robello’s lack of legal representation.

According to the measure before the council, $50,000 will be appropriated for Robello’s defense fund, although the council could later vote to increase that. He will be represented by the legal firm Fukunaga Matayoshi Ching & Kon-Herrera.

At the time of the shooting, Robello was a 13-year veteran of the police department with no prior sustained use of force or use of deadly force investigations, according to Alm’s report.

Robello was on patrol in Kapolei after midnight on Dec. 17, 2021, when he saw two scooters driving recklessly, police said. He eventually caught up to Brown, whose scooter got stuck on a mound on Kalealoa Point Harbor’s edge near Campbell Industrial Park.

After a foot chase, Robello ordered Brown to stop and lie on the ground several times. Brown refused to comply and then gripped a knife, according to HPD.

Alm found that Robello twice fired his stun gun at Brown, but was unable to subdue him. Robello then shot Brown three times.

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