GARY KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Maui police examined a vehicle at Hoopono Place in Makawao yesterday during an investigation into the death of George Brittain.
Maui police kill suspect
The man hits three officers with his car as he flees during a drug search
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MAKAWAO, Maui » A 38-year-old Maui man was shot and killed after police opened fire on him when his car struck the officers during a search for drugs.
Friends and relatives identified the dead man as George Brittain. Brittain had 10 criminal convictions, ranging from driving a stolen vehicle to theft, stretching from 1997.
Three police officers were executing a narcotics search warrant at 241 Hoomaha Road at 6 a.m., police said. A man fleeing the scene in a car hit the three officers and the officers fired at the car, said Lt. Wallace Tom.
Police found the suspect dead in the car in a residential area about two miles away, Tom said.
The three officers were taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where they were treated for their injuries and released, police said.
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GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Friends and relatives of George Brittain laid flowers at the entrance of Hoopono Place in Makawao, where he died yesterday.
MAKAWAO, Maui » A 38-year-old Maui man died from gunshot wounds yesterday after his fleeing car struck three police officers who fired at him. The gunfire rocked this tiny Upcountry community.
The police officers were executing a narcotics search warrant at a residence at 241 Hoomaha Road at 6 a.m., when a suspect driving a car hit the three officers, said Lt. Wallace Tom. The officers drew their weapons and fired, he said.
Police later found the car and the suspect in a residential area on Hoopono Place, about two miles mauka of Hoomaha Road, Tom said.
An autopsy revealed that the man died from internal bleeding caused by a gunshot wound.
Several friends and relatives identified the dead man as George Brittain. They said he wasn't the type who harmed people but they acknowledged he had been struggling with an addiction to crystal methamphetamine.
They laid flowers and lit a candle at the entrance of Hoopono Place, where his body and the vehicle were found yesterday morning.
"This is an unfortunate incident," said a friend, who declined to be identified. "I feel sad for the police too."
Neighbors expressed surprise at the shooting in the quiet, rural neighborhood lined with two-acre lots.
Kimiko Takamiya, a Hoomaha Road resident, said she first noticed something was happening when she saw an area taped off as she left for work about 8:30 a.m. She said the house was a rental and she didn't know the current renters.
"Every time I pass the place, I see young people and older trucks," she said. "People come and go around there."
Hoomanu Road resident Harry Cambra said, "I was pretty shocked."
Some of Brittain's family acknowledged his drug problem, but said police went too far.
Harold Brittain said his nephew fell into drugs in the past and had been involved in a prior police chase. "But I don't know why they had to shoot him," he said.
Another relative of Brittain's, who asked not to identified, said he cared for his friends and characterized him as generous. "I can't imagine being without him," she said. "He made some bad decisions. We all do."
Tom said a juvenile girl who was in the vehicle was questioned by police and was being sent to a detention facility for youths on Oahu.
He said the three officers were treated at and released from Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Tom said an investigation was continuing into whether police found any drugs at the Hoomaha Road residence.
As part of standard procedures whenever police fire their weapons and a death occurs, an internal investigation is conducted, he said.
One of Brittain's friends said he was driving in the direction of his parents' home.
The roads leading to Hoomaha Road and Hoopono Place were blocked by Maui police for most of yesterday.
Brittain had 10 convictions dating to 1997. He had convictions for weapons charges, driving a stolen vehicle, theft and several warrants.
Another friend said Brittain had worked as a security guard, but she did not know whether he had still been working.
She said she thought Brittain had been getting better, but that he had been associating with the wrong people and was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
"When they're doing ice (crystal meth), that's not them, that's not what they're about. That's what they're doing," she said.