Police officers James Kahuhu, left, and Dawn Danley received Citation of Merit certificates yesterday in recognition of Danley's action in using an electrical stun gun to subdue an armed suicidal man. Dispatchers Kathy Paz and Dyann Cabreros received letters of commendation.

Maui police buy
more stun guns

The move comes despite criticism
about the use of deadly force

WAILUKU » The Maui County Police Department plans to expand the use of electrical stun guns, despite allegations that they are linked to more than 80 deaths nationwide.

Maui police bought 24 Taser guns on a trial basis last year, hoping to reduce injuries to police officers and suspects.

The trial use of Taser guns followed some public criticism about the use of deadly force by the Police Department.

On Feb. 29 last year, Maui police fatally shot an alleged exhibitionist who had sprayed bear repellent at a patrolman on a Kihei beach, and also fatally shot a Maui woman on Jan. 23 in a car-theft chase in Paia.

Maui Deputy Police Chief Kekuhaupio Akana said during the six-month trial ending in December, the number of injuries to police officers decreased 77 percent, and to arrestees 44 percent, in the Wailuku-Kahului-Upcountry areas where the Taser was used.

He said no one died and there was very little injury as a result of people being stunned by the Taser. And at least two men were spared from potentially being shot by police.

Akana said the department has already bought an additional 35 Taser guns and plans to have patrol officers on duty use them in all police districts.

He said the department will be asking the county to buy 165 more Taser guns so that they can be personally assigned to patrol officer and special-teams officers.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Justice Department are planning to do a study into more than 80 deaths involving stun guns. Akana said his department plans to review past uses.

Maui Police Commissioner Ron Vaught said he believes every police officer should have a Taser weapon in addition to a service revolver.

Vaught's comments came yesterday as the commission recognized four people, including Maui officer Dawn Danley, who used her Taser weapon to disarm a suicidal man.

Receiving a Citation of Merit in resolving the emergency call were Danley, 34, and police officer James Kahuhu, 29. Police dispatchers Kathy Paz, 28, and Dyann Cabreros, 34, received Letters of Commendation.

The man's wife had called police dispatchers at 6:05 p.m. Dec. 17 to say he was intoxicated and suicidal.

With assistance from Cabreros, Paz was able to obtain vital information regarding the identity of the man, his location and that he might have a gun, police said.

Danley and Kahuhu responded to the call and repeatedly told the man to drop a knapsack, but the man refused.

Both Danley and Kahuhu drew their service weapons and again ordered the man to put the bag down and show his hands.

Police said the man kept pulling out items from the bag in an apparent effort to find something and refused to comply, saying, "No, no, no."

As Kahuhu continued to aim his service weapon at the man, Danley holstered her revolver and drew out her Taser gun.

Suspecting the man had finally found a gun in his knapsack, Danley fired the Taser, she said.

Kahuhu removed the bag from the man's hands, guided him to the floor and handcuffed him. Inside the bag, police found a 9 mm handgun with two rounds in the magazine.

Danley said it was the first time she had used the Taser after undergoing training to use it late last year.

Akana said the use of the stun gun helped to prevent the man taking his life or committing suicide by pulling out his weapon and perhaps forcing police to shoot him.

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