Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Surgeons remove
police bullet

LIHUE » Kauai police are investigating the shooting of a man after he allegedly brandished a large knife and handgun and rammed a patrol car outside police headquarters Sunday.

Lt. Roy Asher, the lead investigator on the case, said yesterday that he is conducting two investigations: a criminal investigation of the man and an administrative one of the police officer.

He would not comment on the administrative investigation. Neither would Police Chief K.C. Lum.

Prosecutor Craig DeCosta said the man will likely face first-degree attempted assault and terroristic threatening charges. But police and prosecutors are still reviewing the case, he said.

The man, who was not identified by police because no charges are filed against him, was listed in stable condition at the Queen's Medical Center on Oahu after undergoing surgery to remove the bullet. The man is expected to be in the hospital for a week, law enforcement officials said.

The 11-year police veteran was also treated for minor injuries at Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Police Department policy is for the officer to remain on three days' administrative leave, then to undergo an evaluation before being allowed back onto active duty.

Police sources said all signs point to the officer being cleared of any wrongdoing.

The incident began at 6:23 a.m. Sunday when an anonymous female called police to report a man erratically driving a white sport utility vehicle on Kapule Highway while brandishing a knife and a handgun.

The woman followed the vehicle, which turned onto Kaana Street and stopped at a cul-de-sac next to police headquarters, officials said.

Eight police officers eventually showed up at the scene, including a hostage negotiator, as a shift change was in progress, Asher said.

Police said the man got out of his vehicle and began speaking inaudibly and wielding the large knife. When ordered to put the knife down, the suspect reached into his vehicle and pulled out a handgun and waved it at the officers at the scene, police officials continued.

The man then returned to his SUV and attempted to drive out of the area, but police had blocked the road.

"Officers felt (they) needed to contain him, not let him back into the community," said Asher, adding that "prior to even coming here, he was acting erratic. We are trying to see if we can find anything that would explain his actions."

The man, police said, then rammed his car into one of the police cars. He then reversed and accelerated forward again, attempting to hit the same police car.

That was when the officer "took a shot, neutralizing the threat," Asher said.

The man was transported to Wilcox Memorial Hospital before being airlifted to Queen's.

It is the first time in 20-plus years a person has been shot by a Kauai police officer, Asher said. The last incident, in Aliomanu, led to a man's death.

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