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Woman shot by police sues Hawaii County for excessive force

A woman filed a lawsuit claiming police officers in Hilo used excessive force when they shot her and fatally shot her husband two years ago.

Nikita Nakamoto filed the civil suit Jan. 12, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported . The suit seeks unspecified damages for Nakamoto and her two children, one of whom is the child of her late husband, Ronald Barawis Jr.

Nakamoto is suing Hawaii County. The police department is not named, but the suit claims the department was negligent in its training and supervision of the officers who shot Barawis and Nakamoto.

The shooting occurred in February 2016 at a McDonald’s restaurant. The suit claims that the car Nakamoto and Barawis were in “was suddenly surrounded by numerous police officers, armed with assault-type rifles” while in the drive-through lane of the fast food outlet. It claims that an officer “suddenly and without any warning, cause or provocation by plaintiff or her husband, and without any justification, opened fire on plaintiff and her husband.”

But police said when Barawis was commanded to get out of the 1991 Honda sedan he was driving, he instead drove over the drive-through’s barrier curb, accelerated, drove directly at an officer, and then rammed into two police vehicles. Assistant Police Chief Henry Tavares, since retired, said at the time Barawis had a shotgun, an assault rifle and two semi-automatic handguns “within Barawis’ reach in the vehicle he was operating.”

Deputy Corporation Counsel Laureen Martin said the county hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and declined further comment.

Nakamoto’s attorney, Jerel Fonseca, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

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