No charges filed
who fatally shot
The officer thought thatBy Debra Barayuga
Fortunato Barques III, who was
on his own land, was reaching
for a gun
No criminal charges will be filed against a police officer who fatally shot Fortunato Barques III near a Pupukea heiau last year during what started as a routine traffic stop.
The city prosecutor's office said yesterday that there was "insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that the officer committed a criminal offense.
Officer Mark D. Boyce shot Barques on May 5, 1998.
The officer was justified in using deadly force against Barques because he believed that such force was "necessary to protect himself against death and serious bodily injury," said Lawrence Grean, chief of the intake and screening division.
Attorney Paul Soccoccio, who represents Barques' parents and his estate, said the decision was not unexpected.
"There's no justification for shooting a man twice in the back on his own property," Soccoccio said. "The question is whether he was threatening the officer.
"He was trying to put as much distance between himself and the officer in a short period of time and was shot in the back. I don't know why they did not bring the evidence before a grand jury and let his constituents decide (if it was justified)."
Boyce, a patrol officer, saw a man and woman in a truck parked illegally on the grassy shoulder near the parking lot of the heiau where numerous cars have been broken into.
Barques ignored the officer's orders to lie on the ground and walked away, yelling at the officer.
The officer followed him down a private road. Barques removed a cellular phone from his waist, dropped the phone, turned away from the officer and reached with his right hand to his left side. Believing Barques was reaching for a gun, which the officer had seen in a shoulder holster, the officer fired twice, hitting Barques in the back, Grean said.
The safety strap on Barques' holster was unsnapped and a Glock semiautomatic handgun was half way out of the holster. Barques died in the hospital nearly two months later.
"The facts we have are clear enough as to satisfy us that we've completed a thorough investigation and the physical evidence corroborates the officer's statement," said Deputy Prosecutor Nora Garrod.
The Honolulu Police Department completed its own investigation into the shooting last July.
Mark Cusmano, attorney for the Barques family and also the family of Rodney Laulusa, who was shot by police at Palolo Valley Homes several months earlier, said the family "vehemently" opposes the decision and is not surprised at the prosecutor's determination.
The Barques family two weeks ago filed suit against Boyce and the Honolulu Police Department, saying Boyce used excessive force and that the shooting was unjustified.