HPD Chief Joe Logan said the department has made changes to its communication strategy after criticism from city leadership over the handling of a previous incident.
A man who police say was brandishing a knife and walking in the middle of Farrington Highway on Thursday was shot and killed by police in the second fatal officer-involved shooting so far this year.
Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan said during a press conference at HPD headquarters that investigators were still working to determine whether the man had the knife in his hand at the time he was shot.
Logan also said the department has been working on increasing its communication with the public since a fatal officer-involved shooting on New Year’s Day that followed a daylong manhunt. Officers killed Sidney Tafokitau on Jan. 1 at around 4:30 p.m. on University Avenue after he opened fire on police, injuring two officers.
“Right after Jan. 1, we had already started making adjustments within our public affairs and social media construct within the administration,” Logan said.
‘It’s Really Scary’
Logan said officers were called to the area of 84-686 Farrington Highway at around 11 a.m. Thursday after callers reported a man carrying a knife and walking in traffic. He said the man was holding a two- to three-inch blade and vehicles, including a city bus, had to drive around him.
When the officers, who are assigned to District 8 in West Oahu arrived, they pointed their firearms at the man and repeatedly told him to drop the knife and get out of the road, Logan said. He refused.
One of the officers tased the man, causing him to fall to the ground. When he fell, an object flew towards the second officer on scene, Logan said.
That officer went to inspect the object while still holding his firearm and keeping an eye on the man, Logan said. At that point, the man “charged” toward the officer, and the officer shot him twice in the chest.
Logan said the incident escalated “in seconds.” He said investigators believe the object that came out of the man’s hand was the knife being thrown at the officer, but that is still under investigation.
The man died at the scene, he said, and both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates.
He said the officers were wearing body cameras, and the footage will eventually be released, though he did not specify when.
Melissa Castillo, who lives along Farrington Highway just yards from where the shooting occurred, looked on as dozens of investigators surveyed the scene behind yellow police tape.
“It’s really scary,” said Castillo, who said she feels violence in the area has been increasing. “We have to be really careful. We shut the gate every time we come and go.”
Laura Key, who lives on Upena Street and was looking at the scene through her binoculars Thursday, said she’s worried about everyone’s safety, but especially for children. She has two kids, aged 13 and 11.
“I’m more concerned as a parent than as an adult,” she said. “I’m concerned more for the children. There’s a lot that walk home, there’s a lot that ride bikes.”
On Thursday afternoon, dozens of police vehicles could be seen lining both sides of the road near 84-686 Farrington Highway. At around 2:30 p.m., a blue bodybag on a gurney was loaded into the back of a van before it drove away from the scene.
Communication Increased After Criticism
Some community members and political leaders, including Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Council Chair Tommy Waters, were critical of HPD in the days following the New Year’s Day shooting for what they perceived as a lack of communication from the department as the situation unfolded.
Blangiardi also told Civil Beat he did not find out about allegations that officers had beaten a bystander to the New Year’s Day shooting until a lawsuit was filed against the department on Jan. 16 and members of the media called him to ask for comment.
“I found out about that through the media calling me up, and I knew nothing about it,” he said. “That’s unacceptable to me.”
Logan said he and Blangiardi met Thursday morning and had a “good discussion.”
As the officer-involved shooting unfolded on Thursday, the department issued two updates on social media. It also posted updates about its search for and arrest of Korey Farinas, who is the suspect in the shooting of an innocent bystander, 64-year-old Andrew Quisquirin, in Waianae on Saturday night. Police say Quisquirin was standing in his driveway and was struck by a stray bullet after a shooter in a vehicle shot at a group of people in another car.
When asked about the lawsuit in which the bystander, Tevitatonga Sinamoni Vaokehekehe Cadiente, says he was hit by a police SUV and “bludgeoned” by multiple officers on Jan. 1, Logan said it was under investigation. No officers have had their police powers restricted so far in connection with the alleged incident.
“We’re taking a look at it,” he said. “I take seriously the allegations made against these officers.”
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