Two Honolulu police officers who opened fire on a homeless man suspect Jan. 24 near Ala Moana Center were justified in using deadly force and will not be charged criminally, according to the outcome of an investigation by the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Office.
Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm told reporters at a news conference this morning that the responding officers executed a “textbook” interaction with Ricky L. Kaleopaa, who remains hospitalized after suffering at least four gunshot wounds from a volley of nine shots fired by two HPD officers.
Officers responding to at least two 911 calls reporting a man with a knife and a suspected stabbing asked Kaleopaa more than 25 times to drop the knife in a consistent, calm tone while asking him to “talk stories” and other tactics designed to deescalate the situation.
Surveillance video from a nearby business and body-worn camera footage from one of the officers showed multiple attempts to get Kaleopaa to surrender peacefully outside Ala Moana Center. Officers tried to angle for a Taser shot and were in the process of deploying a non-lethal bean bag shotgun device when Kaleopaa raised the knife and charged at the officers.
“I would call this textbook (handling of a confrontation with an armed suspect),” said Alm during the news conference. “It’s exceptional…it’s what should happen all the time. They dealt with the situation that existed. We couldn’t have asked them to do a better job.”
State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers President Robert Cavaco said in a statement that the union agrees with the conclusion of Alm’s office. He said the officers’ actions were “both legal and justified” and the armed confrontation reinforces the danger officers face everyday.
“Responding officers exhaustively attempted to de-escalate a quickly unfolding and violent incident orchestrated by an armed suspect, Mr. Kaleopaa. These officers were forced to take action to protect themselves and the public from a potentially lethal attack from the armed suspect,” said Cavaco.