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Airport security firm says officer shot dog to avoid attack

  • COURTESY OF LEISHA RAMOS.

    Leisha Ramos’ pitbull named Kai‘ele was shot and killed by a Securitas guard at Honolulu International Airport on March 28.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A Securitas officer patrolled the interisland commuter terminal at Honolulu International Airport on Friday.

The private security company whose officer shot and killed a pet dog at Honolulu Airport last week said the pit bull was loose and tried to attack the officer, who was injured trying to avoid contact during the incident.

“Securitas Management confirms that while responding to a call for assistance from another officer, a Securitas law enforcement officer assigned to the Honolulu International Airport shot a pit bull which was loose and which had threatened and attempted to attack the officer,” the company said in a press release.

The company said the animal was shot at about 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, in an “unauthorized public area” adjacent to the international arrivals terminal and the Hawaiian Airlines drive-through check-in area.

A summary from the company says the dog was “aggressively barking and lunging at tourists in the area,” and when the officer arrived the pit bull was outside its kennel and its owners were in an unauthorized parking area. The company said the dog got away from the owners and began pursuing the officer as he was asking them to leave the unauthorized parking area.

“Despite repeated requests from the officer to the owners to restrain the pursuing pit bull, the owners were unable to control the loose animal,” the press release said.

“The officer attempted to evade the pit bull’s pursuit by moving backwards and sideways. The officer attempted to seek protection by using the coconut trees in that area as a barrier. As the Pit Bull lunged toward him, the officer fired a single shot at close range, in self defense to prevent being attacked.”

Trying to evade the pit bull, the officer fell backwards into a tree and was injured, and is currently on medical leave.

Securitas said the officer, “has expressed his sorrow and condolences to the family for the loss of the pit bull. Securitas management shares the same sentiment in this unfortunate incident.”

The account differs from the owner of the dog, Leisha Ramos, who told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the security guard shot her 2-year-old, pit-bull mix dog, Kai‘ele, after they arrived on separate flights from Hawaii island.

Ramos said her boyfriend picked up Kai‘ele at the air cargo area, then drove his truck and parked near a grassy area just mauka of the Hawaiian Airlines terminal.

She said Kai‘ele was left chained to a nearby coconut tree, and her boyfriend had gone to gather her luggage at the baggage claim area.

Ramos said the security officer parked his truck, got out of his vehicle, and was shouting at her and her boyfriend that they had to leave and remove the dog from the area. She said he shouted at them and pulled out his weapon.

“My dog stood up. … He was wagging his tail,” she said last week.

She said Kai‘ele’s chain broke but that she immediately grabbed his collar before the dog pulled away.

Ramos said she was holding her 5-month-old baby when the guard shot the dog in the forehead from a few feet away.

According to state Sen. Will Espero last week, the security officer is being investigated for reckless endangering in the second degree and was previously fired as a civilian police officer for the Army “for pulling a gun too much.”

Espero, the former chairman of the Senate’s Public Safety Committee, said a high-ranking sheriff’s deputy based at the Sheriff’s Department’s airport sub-station told him that the unidentified “older … airport police” officer previously provided Department of Defense security as a civilian at Fort Shafter and possibly Fort DeRussy but was fired, although the date is unclear.

There have been frictions between Securitas’ armed “airport police” and sheriff’s deputies at the airport. The deputies’ union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, filed a lawsuit last year challenging Securitas’ security contract at the airport.

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