Moments before he was shot and killed by two Honolulu patrol officers, Reno Velleses showed up high and bleeding at a "clean and sober" house in Waianae seeking treatment for his "ice" addiction, the owner of the home said yesterday.
"He said his friend kicked him out in Mililani at 3 o’clock in the morning and his girlfriend was leaving him," said Raymond Berdon Jr., owner of three Hale Malie Kane clean and sober facilities along the Leeward Coast. "He was bleeding from the chin and looking for help for his drug problem. But we don’t take people who (are) high on drugs, and you could tell he was tweaking."
It was the eighth law enforcement shooting – seven by the Honolulu Police Department – since March 2008, but it was the second fatality.
While adding to the spate of recent officer-involved shootings, Tuesday’s shooting also indirectly highlighted the prevalence of dozens of so-called clean and sober, for-profit operations along the Leeward Coast. They are not drug or alcohol rehabilitation centers, but do help convicts and others with troubled paths rebuild their lives in substance-free environments.
RECENT POLICE SHOOTINGS
» December 2009: Police shot a suspected car thief who allegedly drove toward an officer investigating a stolen vehicle in Kapalama.
» November 2009: An officer shot a man on Cooke Street in Kakaako when the man tried to drive off with another officer hanging onto the vehicle.
» November 2009: Police shot a car-theft suspect in the drive-through line of the Waikele Center KFC as he allegedly tried to escape from police in a stolen car and drove the car at officers, hitting one.
» April 2009: A homeless woman was shot and Tasered by police on King Street after she allegedly lunged at them with metal objects.
» April 2009: An off-duty sergeant shot a man after he allegedly punched and threatened to kill the officer in Makaha.
» March 2008: Police shot and killed a convicted felon caught breaking into a car at Pearlridge Center. The man drove his vehicle into other vehicles, dragging one officer and narrowly missing another.
Patty Teruya, former chairwoman of the Waianae Neighborhood Board and current chairwoman of the Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board, has visited Berdon’s clean and sober home on Palakamana Street in Maili.
But until Tuesday’s shooting, Teruya did not know that Berdon was running two other homes in Waianae, including one right behind the busy Tamura Superette on Analipo Street.
"This house on Analipo Street never came before our board," she said. "When I heard about this house, I was appalled. I went, ‘What?’ There are always lots of important questions: How many people will be in the house? What will they be doing? Who’s in charge?"
Asked repeatedly about Teruya’s comments, Berdon stated several times that "the important thing is that this individual was not a client in our house."
As part of the process of receiving a city permit, clean and sober operations – and similar facilities with five or more unrelated adults – are required to present their business plans to neighborhood boards all across Oahu, according to city officials.
Teruya estimated that there may be as many as 100 clean and sober, halfway houses or other similar rehabilitation facilities along the Leeward Coast being run out of nondescript homes. But Teruya could only recall 10 operations that made presentations to either of the boards she has chaired.
"We need them in our community because we need to help people get back into society," Teruya said yesterday. "At the same time, we need to have them run effectively and not under people’s noses. There are so many of them nestled in – lots of illegal ones."
John L. Dudoit Jr. operates five clean and sober homes on Oahu under Makana o ke Akua Inc. and was cited by city officials at his Ewa Beach operation in 2004 for having more than five unrelated people.
"I didn’t know the city codes," he said. "That’s the way I found out, when a neighbor complained that I had too many individuals in the home and I got cited."
Now Dudoit makes sure he stays in touch with the neighborhood boards in the communities he operates in.
"A lot of these operators don’t want anybody to know they’re there," Dudoit said. "There’s a lot of people doing stuff on the island with their houses that they shouldn’t be doing."
When Velleses, 36, showed up at Hale Malie Kane on Tuesday, one of the eight clients offered him food, Berdon said.
Velleses ended up assaulting the client in the home’s garage, and Berdon told him to leave.
Berdon insisted that Velleses was unarmed as he crossed Analipo Street toward First Hawaiian Bank and the Tamura Superette.
Moments later, police said, two veteran patrol officers from the Honolulu Police Department’s Waianae substation confronted Velleses as he waved a machete in the bank parking lot sometime around 1:15 p.m. Tuesday.
After Velleses nearly hit one of the officers with the machete, police said, the officers fired and hit him four times.
The officers involved Tuesday – a 20-year HPD veteran and one who has been on the force for 12 years – were placed on administrative leave, standard HPD procedure following a shooting.
Velleses had felony convictions for auto theft and burglary, one misdemeanor, three petty misdemeanors and other violations, according to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center.
In the most recent case, Velleses served three years and nine months of a five-year sentence for the 2004 auto theft conviction. He was later found in violation of his parole for possessing methamphetamine, failure to enter into a substance abuse facility and failure to report to his probation officer.
The Hawaii Paroling Authority revoked Velleses’ parole, and he served the remainder of his five-year sentence until November 2008, when he was released.