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Man shot by Honolulu police near Ala Moana Center charged with assault

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM 
                                Interim Honolulu Police Department Chief Rade Vanic holds a news conference Tuesday at HPD headquarters to discuss the Monday shooting of an armed suspect at Ala Moana Center.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Interim Honolulu Police Department Chief Rade Vanic holds a news conference Tuesday at HPD headquarters to discuss the Monday shooting of an armed suspect at Ala Moana Center.

The man shot by Honolulu police near Ala Moana Center Monday night has been arrested and charged with first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, second-degree assault and terroristic threatening.

Rick Kaleopaa, 48, was shot multiple times after allegedly charging three officers while holding a kitchen knife, according to a complaint filed by Honolulu prosecutors.

As police were responding to a report of a stabbing near the bus stop at Kona Iki and Kona streets, they received another report that a man with a knife was blocking a bus in the same area, according to the complaint.

Three officers — Justin Tamashiro, Noli Gadingan, Jr., and Derek Tran — arrived and an Ala Moana Center security guard identified Kaleopaa nearby holding a knife with an 8-inch serrated blade. He was allegedly walking away from the bus stop and hid behind a tree.

Tamashiro observed Kaleopaa to be “severely agitated and enraged as he refused to listen” as officers talked to him, which included Gadingan ordering Kaleopaa multiple times to drop his knife.

As Tran was retrieving a “less lethal” shotgun from one of the police vehicles, Kaleopaa allegedly and “suddenly charged at the three officers,” according to the complaint.

“Kaleopaa raised the knife over his shoulder in an aggressive manner and quickly closed the distance” between himself and the officers, the complaint said.

Kaleopaa came within 10 feet of the officers, who “felt scared for their lives.” Gadingan and Tamashiro shot Kaleopaa, who fell to the ground and dropped his knife.

A male told police that, prior to the arrival of police, Kaleopaa allegedly tackled him from behind and threatened him with a knife, according to the complaint. The male was let go after a bus arrived. The bus driver, per the complaint, said Kaleopaa was trying to stab the male but was unsuccessful.

Kaleopaa allegedly stood in front of the bus until police arrived, according to the driver, who said he later heard four or five gun shots.

At a news conference Tuesday, Honolulu Police Department interim Chief Rade Vanic said the events “unfolded so quickly” that officers didn’t get the chance to use the “less-than-lethal” shotgun.

He said the shooting was necessary because the knife-wielding 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 later said in an emailed statement.

Kaleopaa, who was transferred to a hospital in serious condition, is now in stable condition.

His bail is set at $75,000.

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