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Thursday, March 9, 2000

Police honor
civilians for valor

One stopped a robbery, the
other helped a woman who
was under attack

By Treena Shapiro


The Honolulu Police Department has awarded Civilian Medals of Valor to two men who risked their own safety to protect others.

Vincent Brown stopped an armed robbery in progress, chasing down and tackling a man who attacked a woman with a metal steering lock (like a Club) and stole her purse in the parking lot of Longs Drugs on the Pali Highway. Benedict Cabana prevented his nephew from killing himself or his wife and children while they were parked in a car in front of Castle Medical Center.

"We really don't encourage physical confrontations with people," Police Chief Lee Donohue said during the awards ceremony yesterday. "But in these cases you made a conscious decision and you certainly helped our community."

Both Brown and Cabana said they acted out of concern for others. Brown had been walking by the parking lot about 1 a.m. on Dec. 27 when he heard a woman and a child screaming. As he approached, he thought it might be a domestic squabble because the suspect told him he knew the woman. "No one wants to stick their nose where it doesn't belong," said Brown, a 30-year-old mason.

But the woman, who had been changing her baby's diaper, had already been hit. "I saw the blood and I just kind of reacted," Brown said. The suspect took off running with the woman's purse and Brown caught up to him, tackled him and was able to retrieve the purse and the weapon by time the police arrived.

Cabana, 37, a Cutter Chevrolet employee, had been taking his 26-year-old nephew to the hospital for drug abuse treatment on Aug. 7, 1999, when the nephew, armed with a gun, refused to leave the car. Cabana got his nephew's wife and children safely out of the vehicle, then re-entered and sat with his nephew, both of them keeping their hands on the gun for hours.

"It was more than seven, eight hours," Cabana said. "I was hungry, that's why."

Cabana eventually got his nephew out of the car and into police custody. Now his nephew is "OK, but behind bars," he said. He's getting help now, Cabana said.

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