2 officers demoted
after fatal shooting
A botched arrest led
to the death of officer
Glen Gaspar last year
Two Honolulu police veterans will be temporarily demoted because they were the on-duty supervisors who planned an undercover operation last year in which police officer Glen Gaspar was killed.
Thursday, Jan. 29, 2003
>> The Honolulu Police Department's Administrative Review Board investigated the death of officer Glen Gaspar. A Page A1 article yesterday incorrectly called the panel the Arbitration Review Board.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at email@example.com.
Honolulu Police Department Lt. Bill Kato and Detective Bruce Swann were informed Monday that they were being demoted for six months and transferred to work at the Central Receiving Division.
Gaspar was fatally shot by fugitive Shane Mark on March 4 in the Kapolei Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as undercover officers tried to arrest Mark for a previous shooting.
Sources said a HPD review board found that Kato and Swann, as supervisors, did not take the proper steps to ensure a successful mission, which should have included Gaspar and all other undercover officers wearing bulletproof vests.
Kato has 24 years in the department and will be demoted to sergeant. Swann, a 30-year veteran, will be demoted to patrolman.
The demotions go into effect Feb. 1.
Officials for the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers said the union is filing a grievance for Kato. Sources said Swann, one of the supervisors for the Career Criminal Unit, filed for retirement the day he received the news about his demotion and is expected to leave the department at the end of the month.
"It's a very tragic situation all the way around," said Detective Alex Garcia, the Oahu chapter chairman for SHOPO. "Kato is an excellent supervisor, and Swann is an excellent detective.
"We're all saddened about Glen's death, but this discipline is excessive and unfair and we'll be pursuing to have this corrected."
Two other detectives and a patrolman who were involved in the undercover operation were also disciplined. Officer Calvin Sung and detectives Kenny Higa and Shannon Kawakami all received one-day suspensions.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2003
Lt. Bill Kato, left, and Detective Bruce Swann testified Dec. 5 during the trial for Shane Mark. Both men have been demoted over events in the Kapolei shooting that killed policeman Glen Gaspar.
All five men, along with Gaspar, were members of a police plainclothes unit that converged on the Baskin-Robbins after learning that Mark would be there meeting with his former girlfriend and their 10-year-old daughter. During a scuffle with Mark, Gaspar was shot three times.
HPD's Internal Affairs investigators investigated Gaspar's death and results of the investigation were turned over to the Arbitration Review Board, which is made up of HPD's assistant and deputy chiefs of police.
Mark has a long criminal history, including dozens of arrests. At the time of Gaspar's shooting, Mark was wanted for allegedly shooting at two men, hitting one in the leg, on Feb. 1 in Moanalua.
However, during Mark's trial, Kato told the jury that the suspect's ex-girlfriend, Melissa Sennett, advised authorities she was meeting Mark and assured police he would not be armed.
"I asked her if she felt Shane would come armed, and she said, 'No, he would never do that around our daughter,'" Kato testified.
Kato, who is supervisor of the homicide and missing-persons detail, testified that officers in both details are not required to wear bulletproof vests in their day-to-day duties. He said 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.
Garcia said that at best, the bulletproof vest policy is vague and encourages that even those who got one-day suspensions to file grievances with the union.
"They did the best job they could and there's no reason for them to face disciplinary action in a case like this," he said.
Neither Kato nor Swann would comment.
An HPD spokeswoman said the department could not comment on the disciplinary actions taken. Police Chief Lee Donohue is out of town and unavailable for comment.
Mark is awaiting sentencing after being convicted last month of the second-degree murder of Gaspar.