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Shooting appears justified, major says


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POSTED: Thursday, November 05, 2009

Honolulu police defended three officers who fired shots at an auto-theft suspect cornered in a stolen Dodge Durango at a KFC drive-through in Waikele on Tuesday afternoon.

The three Pearl City Crime Reduction Unit officers fired five rounds, hitting the man three times, but there was no apparent wrongdoing, Maj. Dave Kajihiro, Pearl City District commander, said yesterday.

The 23-year-old man tried to flee, but was trapped by two police vehicles and a woman in a pickup truck at the window. He “;decided to force his way out, and he tried to ram the cars in his way out of there,”; Kajihiro said.

“;He put the car in reverse,”; Kajihiro said. “;Doing that, he put two officers (on foot) in danger. That's when the shots were fired, because the officers could have gotten pinned and one did. Being the officers were in danger, they had to stop the threat.”;

Police initially said two officers were struck and injured, but only one was actually hit by the sport utility vehicle.

A 43-year-old officer with six years of service was pinned against the wall by the SUV, and shot at the suspect. He was treated for an injured shoulder at a hospital and released.

The other, a 35-year-old, 12-year HPD veteran, struggled with a 25-year-old female passenger from the Durango who allegedly punched the officer in the face. He was treated at the hospital for a back injury and was released later that evening.

Two other officers on foot in front of the Durango, “;seeing that the officers were in danger, pulled the trigger,”; Kajihiro said.

“;Luckily no one else got hurt,”; he said. “;It's hard to second-guess.”;

He noted the Durango passengers and the person at the drive-through in the vehicle in front were unhurt.

“;Experienced officers realize when they shoot, they have to take all of this into consideration, and that's what we're trained to do in a split second before pulling the trigger,”; he said.

The three officers who fired the shots will begin three days of voluntary administrative leave with pay today. (Mandatory leave comes only with a suspicion of wrongdoing.)

The suspect, who has numerous arrests for burglary and car break-ins, was arrested on two counts of first-degree attempted murder, but remains hospitalized.

;[Preview]    Wounded suspect's family prays for recovery
  ;[Preview]
 

Two Honolulu police officers and the suspected car thief they allegedly shot yesterday are recovering tonight.

Watch ]

 

He was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the arm and was initially in critical condition, but was upgraded that night to serious but stable.

The Durango, stolen Monday in Waimalu, was seen Tuesday by the owner's son parked in front of their Pearl City house at 1712 Hooheke St., Kajihiro said. (Police say car thieves often return to the car owner's home to burglarize the home since they sometimes possess the house keys or garage door opener.)

The son called police to have it fingerprinted.

When he was about to have it towed, he saw the suspects jump in the car and drive away. A minute or two later, a 911 caller, recognizing the SUV, spotted it heading onto the H-1 freeway, Kajihiro said.

Hearing the call, nine CRU plainclothes officers in unmarked vehicles spotted the Durango heading into the KFC drive-through. Unbeknownst to the Durango driver, one officer pulled in behind him, while another positioned his van in front.