Detective Bruce Swann testified yesterday in the trial of Shane Mark, who is accused of killing police officer Glen Gaspar at Baskin-Robbins in Kapolei on March 4.

Officers detail fight
with alleged shooter

Police Detective Ken Higa recalled grappling with a suspected fugitive resisting arrest by two fellow officers in the Kapolei Baskin-Robbins on March 4.

He said he yelled twice to the fugitive, "Police! Stop resisting!"

"Five seconds later, I hear two popping noises," said Higa, a 23-year Honolulu Police Department veteran who was part of the plainclothes unit involved in the arrest.

As he fell to the ground with his arms in a bearhug around the fugitive along with officers Glen Gaspar and Calvin Sung, Higa said he heard a third shot go off and Gaspar say, "I've been shot."

"His eyes were closed, and gurgling sounds were coming from him," said Higa, who was among four officers who testified yesterday in the first-degree murder trial of Shane Mark, the 29-year-old man accused of shooting Gaspar twice in the chest, killing him.

Mark is arguing he fired in self-defense, believing the officers were men who had been out to get him after a Feb. 1 shooting in Moanalua. He also maintains the officers never identified themselves or showed ID before grabbing him in the ice cream store.

The officers, each averaging about 200 pounds, described the intense struggle with Mark, which lasted about five minutes before Higa was able to disarm him.

Higa, who entered the ice cream store as Gaspar and Sung struggled with Mark, testified he did not know who fired the shots or where the gun was until he managed to pull Mark's arm from under his body and saw him gripping a revolver.

Despite efforts by the other officers to restrain Mark's arms, "he was able to cock his wrist backward, and the barrel was pointing at me," Higa said, noting that a round was chambered in the cylinder.

"I was afraid he was going to shoot me or someone else," Higa said.

He tried to grab Mark's wrist and point the barrel away from himself, but Mark pointed the gun at Sung, Higa said. Higa eventually managed to reach over with his left hand to grab the revolver's cylinder, effectively stopping it from turning, and pulled the gun from Mark's hand.

Detective Bruce Swann remembered the smell of gunpowder after hearing the shots and Gaspar saying, "I'm shot."

Swann yelled to another officer outside the store to call an ambulance and then tried to wedge himself between Gaspar and Mark to take over from the injured officer.

"I didn't know where he was shot or how badly he had been shot," Swann said.

Had they known Mark would be armed, Lt. William Kato, head of the plainclothes detail, said he would have called in the Specialized Services Division or arrested Mark at another location.

They relied on representations by Melissa Sennett, Mark's former girlfriend who had tipped them off that he would be meeting her and their 10-year-old daughter at the Baskin-Robbins around noon that day. She told police Mark would never carry a gun around their daughter. Police had less than an hour to plan their strategy and drive to Kapolei to wait for Mark.

Kato, also supervisor of the homicide and missing-persons detail, said officers in both details are not required to wear bulletproof vests in their normal day-to-day duties. They are required to wear them only when they respond to situations in which shots have been fired or when they know the person they are going to apprehend is armed, he said during questioning by Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter.

In court documents, the defense indicated it will present evidence that officers failed to follow procedures, including the wearing of bulletproof vests, planning of operations and surveillance.

Under questioning by deputy public defender Debra Loy, Kato acknowledged there is a policy on the use of bulletproof vests but that he did not believe they were engaging in what Loy called a "high-profile dangerous mission."

Swann, team leader of the plainclothes unit, also testified they assessed all the information they had on Mark and did not consider him a "high-risk fugitive."


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --