Honolulu Police Department reviewing body camera footage of fatal shooting

  • In US
  • 2021-04-07 16:12:00Z
  • By Tribune Publishing

Apr. 7-The Honolulu Police Department on Tuesday was reviewing body camera footage from three officers involved in the fatal shooting Monday of a 16-year-old boy who was driving a stolen white Honda Civic linked to several crimes.

The car crashed into a McCully canal Monday after a lengthy police pursuit from an Aina Haina park.

The Honda is allegedly linked to other crimes-a Moiliili armed robbery 20 minutes before it was spotted by police, a burglary and car theft in Kaimuki, a Waikiki purse-snatching and the original auto theft-and was the subject of a police chase from East Honolulu to a crowded residential-commercial area near the Honolulu Don Quijote store.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office said Tuesday it was too early to release information on the 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police, saying it is an ongoing investigation.

Three officers fired seven to eight rounds, one fatally wounding the driver prior to the Honda crashing into the Kalakaua Canal, Police Chief Susan Ballard said at a 9 :30 p.m. Monday news conference. An 18-year-old passenger was seriously injured in the gunfire, and a third received nonlife-threatening injuries in the crash. Emergency Medical Services treated a 14-year-old boy for serious nongunshot injuries. A 22-year-old had minor injuries and refused treatment, EMS said. A second 16-year-old was taken into custody.

Police said the 18-year-old, Mark Sykap, was arrested at the scene at 5 :05 p.m. on suspicion of three counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, drug promotion and second-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle. Kealii N. Fernandez, 21, was arrested nearby at 5 :30 p.m. Monday and charged with second-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

Ballard said police were also checking the scene to look for any handguns that any of the six male occupants of the car, who range in age from 14 to 22, might have tossed out before the car landed in the Kalakaua Canal, near the intersection of Kalakaua Avenue and Philip Street.

She said one of the officers saw what appeared to be a firearm on the seat "when they first approached the car."

HPD spokeswoman said no guns were reported found in the area Tuesday, and no answers to questions from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser posed Tuesday could be answered. No news conference or updates were provided to the media. The body camera footage has not been released.

The gunfire occurred in a crowded urban area, just across the street from Kala ­kaua Homes, where one woman said she worried for the children playing in her yard. She could see HPD officers, armed with rifles, running around the area. She was close enough to smell the gunpowder and saw one person being pulled out of the canal and worked on by emergency responders.

Ballard said in June that body-worn camera footage would be released to the public only if it doesn't affect an ongoing investigation, and only on a case-by-case basis.

"I think the chief owes us transparency, " said University of Hawaii law school professor Ken Lawson, who questioned what HPD's use of deadly force and pursuit policies are.

He said dashboard and body camera videos and police dispatch recordings will show how the pursuit began, the routes taken, how crowded the streets were and how the pursuit was handled.

"Many jurisdictions have police pursuit polices because these police chases put innocent individuals in harm's way, " he said. "Some of those policies require the police to stop pursuing if the pursuit is getting into a high rate of speed and entering into a very, very crowded pedestrian area."

He said the 2019 Kakaako police pursuit in which three people were killed and four others were injured by a fleeing pickup truck driver shows the dangers of such a situation.

The videos will also show whether the use of force was justified, Lawson said. At what point were they shot ? "Were these teenagers unarmed and just trying to run away when they were shot ?"

"These are questions that need to be answered. ... They can only be answered in a credible way with full transparency."

"When they don't want to release something, the normal fallback position is, 'Oh, it's an ongoing investigation.'"

Yet Lawson pointed out that the department has no problem in quickly releasing videos where a suspect is engaged in a crime even though the case is not over, such as in the impaired-driving case of state Rep. Sharon Har in which she was going in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

"If they can release the body cam footage in the case of Sharon Har, where there's no allegation of police misconduct ... why can't they release this ? Her case had not been thoroughly investigated. It's still pending. They still released the video.

"What's good for the goose should be good for the gander, " he said. "The public has the right to know."

In Monday's shooting, Ballard confirmed none of the car's occupants fired weapons, nor were any guns found on them or the vehicle.

She said the reason officers discharged their weapons is still under investigation and that the officers were still shaken.

"We're still trying to get statements, " Ballard said Monday, adding there had been no time, since officers have a right to talk to their union attorney first.

She said the Honda was involved in an armed robbery at a Moiliili home on Isenberg Street involving two guns, according to victims, 20 minutes before it was spotted at Kawaikui Beach Park near Puuikena Drive, which leads to Hawaii Loa Ridge.

The Honda sped Ewa on Kalanianaole Highway, then onto the H-1 freeway and onto Kapiolani Boulevard before the teen drove into oncoming traffic on Kala ­kaua Avenue where the Honda was blocked by officers, near Kalakaua Avenue and Philip Street.

The chief said the vehicle rammed two marked police cars and crashed through a chain-link fence before landing in the canal. She said it was "during this time " that the officers fired multiple shots at the vehicle.

Some of the car occupants fled and were chased by officers on foot.


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