Maui police chief details shooting
Tom Phillips tells how an attempted drug raid turned deadly
WAILUKU » Maui police officers fired shots at a car to try to stop a fleeing George Brittain Jr. from ramming a Makawao warehouse door being held partially open by three police officers, Maui Police Chief Tom Phillips said.
Brittain, who was found later near the car at a residence two miles away from the shooting, died from a loss of blood, police said.
"By the time they got to the scene, Brittain was dead," Phillips said.
In an interview yesterday, Phillips defended his officers' actions. When the car hit the warehouse door at 241 Hoomaha Road, one officer was knocked unconscious and thrown 30 feet to the side of the warehouse, a second was thrown to the other side and a third was thrown under the warehouse door, he said.
Phillips said the officer thrown under the door injured his foot.
All three officers were treated and released from Maui Memorial Medical Center, but two of the three are on injury leave.
Two groups of officers, perhaps totaling close to 14, executed a drug warrant at the house and the nearby warehouse at Hoomaha Road a little after 6 a.m. last Friday, police said.
Three officers pulled up the hinged warehouse door to create enough space for other officers to crawl under and into the structure. Brittain was in a vehicle in the warehouse, police said.
Phillips said the officers who entered the warehouse announced they were police executing a search warrant and ordered Brittain to get out of the vehicle.
Phillips said Brittain backed out, ramming the door and officers, then drove forward into the path of the officer who had injured his foot.
Phillips said most shots were fired outside the warehouse while the car was headed toward the injured officer and that four officers fired their weapons.
The injured officer barely managed to get out of the way of the fleeing vehicle, Phillips said.
"If he hadn't scrambled out of that situation, I'm sure he would have been killed," he said.
Phillips said police did not to pursue the vehicle because they were far from their vehicles and were attending to the injured officers.
At 6:42 a.m. police received a call from a man who noticed a smoking car riddled with bullet holes near a residence at Hoopono Place.
Police officers arrived at 6:43 a.m. and called for a medic at 6:44 a.m.
Police said officers called at 6:45 a.m. to say that Brittain was dead.
Phillips said the department was lucky that none of the officers was killed and that a 17-year-old girl in the fleeing car with Brittain was uninjured.
The girl, not related to Brittain, was not arrested and was released into the custody of her parents, police said.
Phillips said police were executing a narcotics search warrant at the Hoomaha Road residence, occupied by a 37-year-old man and 35-year-old woman, and that Brittain happened to be on the property.
An autopsy showed that Brittain had crystal methamphetamine in his system.
Brittain had 10 convictions, including one for driving a stolen vehicle.
Police found crystal meth, marijuana, pills, drug pipes and cash at the Hoomaha Road address.
Phillips said a 37-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman were arrested at the house and released pending further investigation.