POSTED: 10:05 a.m. HST, Aug 6, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 6:51 p.m. HST, Aug 7, 2013
In frame-by-frame detail, State Department special agent Christopher Deedy described the moments leading to his fatal shooting of Kailua resident Kollin Elderts at the Waikiki McDonald’s in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2011.
Deedy took the stand in his murder trial for serveral hours Tuesday, but the trial adjourned for the day just before Deedy described fatally shooting Elderts.
Deedy testified extensively about the beginning of the fight that led to the shooting.
Under questioning by lead defense attorney Brook Hart, Deedy said he intervened when he noticed what he described as a “hostile incident” at the McDonald’s counter between Elderts, Elderts’ friend Shane Medeiros and customer Michel Perrine. Hart had Deedy use a pointer as he described in great detail what was happening in the McDonald’s surveillance video.
Deedy said when he asked Medeiros and Elderts what was going on, Elderts, who was behind him, said “Hey f---ing haole, You like beef?”
“I turned around and I said, ‘Nobody wants to fight.’ He (Elderts) said, ‘I’ll f--k you up.’”
At that point, Deedy said he pulled out his badge from his back pocket and identified himself as a law enforcement officer.
Deedy testified he told Elderts and Medeiros, “I’m a cop, if you assault me or anybody else here, you will be arrested”
Elderts’ response, according to Deedy, was: “You won’t arrest me; you got a gun?”
“It was not what I expected,” Deedy testified. “It was not what I anticipated.”
Deedy said the McDonald’s security guard said she had called police and that they were on their way.
“I thought, great, police were coming,” Deedy said.
Hart asked Deedy why he didn’t leave the scene at that point.
“For me at this point to simply run would be irresponsible,” Deedy answered. “I had already displayed my identification, told him he would be arrested. As a law enforcement officer to walk away from something I had taken responsibility for would be totally irresponsible.”
Deedy said he also believed that other law enforcement officers would be there very quickly.
But the situation escalated within seconds.
Deedy said he noticed Elderts acting aggressively, dropping his chin and changing his posture.
“This was an immediate behavior before an assault,” Deedy said.
When Elderts came at him, Deedy said he used a front kick to create space between himself and Elderts.
“He (Elderts) countered my kick,” Deedy said, catching Deedy’s heel as he kicked him and pulling his slipper off.
“This is an ‘oh no’ moment in our training,” Deedy said. “If somebody uses a counter maneuver against your defenses, it means they could very well know what they are doing ... When you’re assessing the facts of an assailant, that’s one of the things that’s a major contributor in assessing the amount of force to be used.”
At that point, Deedy said he also had his right hand on his gun, but had not pulled it out.
The trial recessed just after 4:30 p.m. and will resume Wednesday morning.
Earlier in the afternoon, Deedy testified that he had four beers — “maybe more, maybe less” — in the hours before going to the McDonald’s restaurant, where he shot and killed Elderts.
Deedy described a night of drinking and catching up with former college roommate Adam Gutowski, a Waikiki resident.
Deedy, Gutowski and Gutowski’s then-girlfriend Jessica West met in Waikiki and went to First Friday in Chinatown. At one bar, Deedy said he drank a club soda rather than a beer.
The three later went to Moose McGillicuddy’s on Lewers Street in Waikiki where Deedy said he had two beers.
He testified he had about four beers between 8:45 p.m. and 2:15 a.m.
"I make it a habit to keep track of what I’m drinking,” Deedy said. “I always try to drink responsibly."
Deedy said he tries to drink about one beer an hour so that he can drive and because he carries a gun.
His defense attorney Brook Hart asked him if he felt he was under the influence of alcohol before reaching the McDonald’s. Deedy said no and said he felt “normal” and “good.”
Deedy took the witness stand for the first time shortly before 11 a.m. and testified for about an hour before the court recessed for lunch. He resumed testifying about 1:15 p.m. before the Circuit Court jury.
Deedy, 29, who was here to provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, is charged with murder for the fatal gunshot to the chest of Elderts, 23, of Kailua.
The agent’s testimony this morning included his employment background with the U.S. State Department, including his security clearance and training.
His defense attorney Brook Hart questioned Deedy about his training with firearms and dealing with a non-compliant person.
"We're told constantly to assess and reassess the situation. … The most fundamental thing is to ask questions," Deedy said, later adding: "We are taught to maintain a tactical advantage in an assault situation."
Deedy, who became an agent in 2009, said he was also trained on taking back or taking away a weapon.
"Your weapon is a deadly weapon. It's a great responsibility and we're given statistics every year on how many officers are killed with their own weapon. It's a very important topic, how to maintain control of our own weapon."
Deedy testified that federal law allows him to carry a weapon and the director of his agency issued an e-mail instituting a 24-hour-a-day carry policy.
Deedy said his job in the department’s diplomatic security service included working with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as Sen. John McCain.
He said he was also assigned to the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, but returned to the U.S. before the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that left four dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Today is the 18th day of Deedy's trial.
The prosecution maintains that Deedy, armed with his 9 mm Glock while bar hopping in Chinatown and Waikiki, kicked and shot the unarmed Elderts needlessly.
Deedy's defense is that he was acting as a law enforcement officer to quell a potentially dangerous situation that started with Elderts bullying a McDonald's customer.
Deedy identified himself, which enraged the drunken Elderts, who grabbed at the agent's gun when the third and final shot was fired, according to the defense.
Deedy’s testimony may also clear the way for the defense tell the jury about Elderts’ 2008 disorderly conduct conviction. In that case, Elderts resisted arrest at the parking lot of a Kailua bar and swearing at police officers before he was physically subdued, according to the defense.
The defense contends the conviction shows Elderts' aggressive and violent character in support of the agent's self-defense claims.