HILO >> Authorities say all police officers involved in the four fatal shootings of men on Hawaii island this year are back on active duty as investigations into the deaths wrap up.
Assistant Chief Henry Tavares said in an email that investigations into the shooting deaths of Ronald Barawis Jr. and Scottie Yanagawa have been forwarded to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for review. He said probes into the deaths of Kalyp Rapoza and BJ Medeiros remain ongoing, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday.
The names of the officers won’t be disclosed unless they are charged in the shootings, which occurred in Hilo and Puna.
Starting in July, officer-involved shootings will be reviewed by an independent board administered by the state attorney general’s office as part of a new law approved this year.
“The intent of this bill is to make certain people have trust in the investigatory process and they feel that nothing’s being covered up or swept under the rug,” said Senate Vice President Will Espero, a co-sponsor of the legislation.
The nine-member board will consist of a deputy attorney general; a former prosecutor or deputy prosecutor from each county; a retired state judge; a former police chief, deputy chief or sheriff; and two community members without law enforcement or criminal justice experience. The governor will appoint one of the community members, while all others will be appointed by the attorney general.
The board will review investigations of officer-involved deaths in all four county police departments, state sheriffs and other law enforcers, including Department of Land and Natural Resources officers and Department of Transportation harbor police.
Espero said this year’s shootings on the Big Island point to a need for the kind of investigations that the board will conduct starting next year.
Barawis was shot and killed by officers Feb. 5 in a McDonald’s drive-thru. Police say he was armed and drove toward officers, who opened fire in response. Barawis was wanted along with Yanagawa in connection with a Jan. 31 shooting that critically injured a Kona man. Yanagawa was killed four days after Barawis in a shootout with officers in a Walmart parking lot.
Police say Rapoza was fatally shot June 6 by an officer while armed with a knife. A dog that was with him was also shot.
Medeiros was shot and killed July 22 after police say he pointed a handgun at an officer.