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Police shoot man, 48, who allegedly charged at officers with knife in Ala Moana area

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@ STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Honolulu Police Department interim Chief Rade Vanic speaks at a press conference today.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@ STARADVERTISER.COM

    Honolulu Police Department interim Chief Rade Vanic speaks at a press conference today.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.

Honolulu police officers who shot a homeless man armed with a knife Monday evening were retrieving a less lethal weapon to use, but the incident “unfolded so quickly” that they didn’t get the chance, Honolulu Police Department interim Chief Rade Vanic said.

In a news conference this afternoon, Vanic said police officers responded to a stabbing near the Ala Moana Center around 10:40 p.m. on Monday, and when they arrived they encountered the 48-year-old suspect holding a knife and walking away from the scene.

Officers spoke to the suspect for 1-2 minutes, ordering the suspect to drop the knife multiple times, but Vanic said he refused.

“The suspect then ran toward the officers with the knife raised in the air,” he said. “Two officers fired at the suspect, striking him multiple times.”

He said the suspect was possibly shot in the arm and the torso. Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to Kona and Kona Iki streets to treat the suspect, who was then taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Vanic later said that less lethal weapons were not used.

“A Taser was not used in this incident, however there was a less lethal (weapon) that was in the process of being used at the time, but the incident unfolded so quickly that the officers didn’t have an opportunity to deploy their less lethal (weapon),” he said.

Vanic later clarified in an email statement that officers were retrieving a “less-than-lethal shotgun” to use when the suspect ran toward the officers with the knife. He said that multiple factors, such as the weapon the suspect has and the distance between the suspect and officers, are taken into consideration when officers decide to use firearms or less lethal weapons.

In the case of Monday night’s shooting, the interim chief defended the officers’ use of their firearms, which he said was a matter of officer safety because the suspect ended up “within arm’s reach” of the officers.

“If the officers had deployed a Taser and the deployment was unsuccessful, the officers would have been in greater danger,” Vanic’s emailed statement said.

Neither of the two officers who fired their weapons were injured. The officers are relative newcomers, with one and two years of experience with HPD. One is on administrative leave, and the other is on a scheduled day off, Vanic said.

Hawaii’s police union, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, was also in support of the officers’ decision to use their firearms.

“The suspect failed to comply with lawful verbal commands and then charged the officers while armed with the knife, forcing the officers to discharge their firearms, striking the suspect,” SHOPO said in a statement. “The suspect is currently in custody and thankfully all of our officers involved are unharmed, safe, and went home at the end of their shifts to their families.”

While HPD initially responded to a stabbing, it doesn’t appear that anyone was stabbed in the incident, based on reports from HPD and EMS. A security guard was grazed by a bullet that Vanic said didn’t even break through her clothes and may have ricocheted off another object.

Body-worn cameras were active during the incident, but Vanic said the footage is being reviewed for the investigation and prosecution purposes and did not say if HPD will release it to the public. Surveillance footage is also be recovered by police.

An arrest warrant against the suspect for three counts of first-degree attempted murder is being prepared.

Previous coverage

Honolulu police officers shot a knife-wielding homeless man multiple times after the man allegedly charged at them Monday night in the Ala Moana area, Honolulu police said.

Police said a man reported that another man threatened him with a knife before 10:40 p.m.

When they arrived, the victim pointed the 48-year-old suspect out to officers who approached the suspect and commanded him to drop the knife.

Police said the suspect refused to comply and charged at them while still holding the knife. Officers discharged their duty firearms to stop him, police said.

Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to Kona and Kona Iki streets to treat the suspect who sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

There are conflicting reports on his condition. EMS said he was taken in serious condition to a hospital and police said he was taken in critical condition.

Police have opened an attempted murder and terroristic threatening investigation against the 48-year-old man.

Officers recovered the knife from the scene, police said.

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