Maui police change
shooting story

The police chief says he
expects no charges against police
officers involved in the case

WAILUKU >> Maui police Chief Thomas Phillips said no criminal charges are anticipated against the two police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a woman Friday afternoon in Paia.

But at a news conference yesterday, police officials changed their account of the shooting of 27-year-old Lisa Kaina, who allegedly stole a Cadillac from a rental company.

According to the initial police account, Kaina was shot as she reversed the car toward an officer after a pursuit that ended in front of the Bank of Hawaii branch in Paia.

Yesterday, police Lt. Glenn Cuomo, a supervising detective, said the physical evidence shows that two officers were standing within five feet of the vehicle and near the driver's-side door when they fired one round each into the vehicle and that no officer was standing behind the car.

Cuomo said before the shooting, the vehicle did reverse toward an officer, but police did not know the length of time that passed between the vehicle reversing in the direction of the officer and the shooting.

The news conference came amid criticisms from some witnesses and Kaina's family members who said the shooting was excessive and unnecessary.

Phillips said police are trained to use force when there is a threat to an officer or someone else.

"We don't have to lose an officer before they use force. They're taught to stop a threat," he said.

Some witnesses and family members had said that police should have shot out the Cadillac's tires rather than used deadly force.

Phillips said shooting the tires "wouldn't be tactically feasible" or "effective."

"I don't want to sound sarcastic, but an injury from a car that has a flat tire is no different than a car that has steering," he said.

One shot hit Kaina on the left side of the head above the ear, and the other shot hit the headrest and was lodged in a rear door panel, police said.

Kaina's family members have said that the vehicle was trapped between a traffic sign and police cars and would have been unable to escape.

Phillips said the car drove forward and reversed several times, colliding with a patrol car at least once, and also struck the traffic sign and a red Jeep occupied by two civilians.

Andy Tomita, one of Kaina's brothers, said witnesses told him that Kaina had raised her hands to surrender.

Cuomo said that after a preliminary investigation, it appears Kaina's hands were on the wheel and gear shift knob.

Phillips added, "We have no indication she was surrendering."

Police said packets of suspected crystal methamphe-tamine were found with Kaina.

Cuomo said the investigation was continuing and that they were still determining the exact location of the police officers and other vehicles when the shots were fired.

The two officers, one a nine-year veteran and the other a three-year veteran, are on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of police criminal and internal affairs investigations.


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