Lee Cataluna: Spate of shootings seems to be new normality
When Honolulu police shot a man near the state Department of Health building in October, it was the sixth fatal shooting by HPD in a year, the highest number of fatal police shootings on Oahu since 2013.
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When Honolulu police shot a man near the state Department of Health building in October, it was the sixth fatal shooting by HPD in a year, the highest number of fatal police shootings on Oahu since 2013. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that it was also the 11th officer-involved shooting in 2018. There were two fatal police shootings in 2017, one in 2016 and none in 2015.
In just the first two months of 2019, there have already been two fatal shootings by Honolulu police and two by state law enforcement.
The reaction from Oahu residents seems muted. It’s more a lack of reaction. There was a protest last week staged by about a dozen people, including activists and academics, but even that group was calling for alternatives to shooting rather than protesting police brutality. There seems to be acknowledgement that crime on Oahu has gotten more violent, which explains why crime-fighting has gotten more violent.
In all of the recent situations, there wasn’t the sense that this could happen to anyone. Each was, as far as we know, precipitated by a criminal act by the suspect, a refusal to cooperate with law enforcement or an attempt to escape. Regular citizens who don’t try to break out of prison or go drinking at the state Capitol at night don’t feel threatened. These weren’t cases of an unarmed teen walking home wearing a hoodie or a routine traffic stop for a broken brake light that suddenly escalated into violence. These involved people who were doing things they shouldn’t have been and who didn’t stop when law enforcement told them to stop.
Contrast this to the community response when federal agent Christopher Deedy shot Kollin Elderts at the Waikiki McDonald’s. The sense of shock and even injustice was more palpable following the 2011 shooting. Maybe it was because it happened in brightly lit, family-friendly McDonald’s; maybe because it was a local guy just mouthing off but not doing anything criminal, or because Deedy wasn’t from this jurisdiction, wasn’t on duty and had been drinking; or maybe it was because we were more shocked by such things back then. That shooting felt different. It weighed on the community.
We’re seeing a lot of people doing things they shouldn’t be doing out on the streets of Honolulu. We see a lot of people asking for trouble, looking for a fight. We hear stories of brazen behavior, and we know the cops and the sheriffs have to deal with all sorts of really bad actors. The island still might not be a violent community, but it has certainly become aggressive. It would be a shame if we got used to hearing stories about people being shot by cops and just accepted it as our new normal.
Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or email@example.com.