HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now showed retired Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Thomas Aiu the McDonald's surveillance video that shows the fatal altercation between Christopher Deedy and Kollin Elderts.
Aiu agreed to comment on the images as an impartial observer.
"It's difficult to see who actually is initiating the aggression," he said.
The raw video was unsealed by Circuit Court judge Karen Ahn. It shows the confrontation from multiple camera angles. At one point it looks like Deedy is listening to a verbal exchange at the counter between Elderts and customer Michel Perrine.
"For some reason it caught his eye," Aiu observed.
Deedy approaches Elderts' table, leans over and appears to show Elderts something in his hands. Aiu said agents are trained to verbally identify themselves and to flash their badge and credentials.
"If we're going to interject ourselves in a situation that calls for some type of law enforcement activity you must identify yourself," he said.
The video shows commotion with people stepping between Deedy and Elderts who is now on his feet. Deedy appears to lift his shirt exposing his holster, then lets his shirt fall. The situation quickly becomes volatile.
"There is a use of force continuum that we must adhere to, and it ranges from physical presence, verbal orders, all the way up to use of deadly force," Aiu said.
Elderts and Deedy clash, Deedy falls backward then gets to his feet. He simultaneously extends his left arm toward an advancing Elderts while reaching his right hand toward his hip.
"He's creating space between himself and Kollin," Aiu said. "What he's doing at that point is protecting his weapon, 'blading' himself, keeping his weapon far away from the other individual."
Aiu said a moment later it appears Elderts grabs for Deedy's gun.
"That becomes a very dangerous situation because if the gun, the agent's weapon, is taken from him, then it's going to be used against him," he said. "At that point, if someone is trying to take your weapon, then you have the right to fire. Deadly force can be used. If that's what occurred."
Three shots were fired with bystanders a few feet away. Aiu said some people in McDonald's may have been in the line of fire.
"Anybody behind the weapon has the potential to be injured," he said.
Aiu was involved in three shootings. One resulted in a fatality. He said federal agents do not draw their weapons to warn and they don't fire warning shots.
"You have to decide at a moment's notice, in a millisecond whether or not you have to utilize deadly force in the protection of your life, the lives of your fellow agents, and innocent bystanders," he said.
Deedy is charged with second-degree murder. His attorney said he shot in self-defense.
Aiu said shootings involving federal agents are reviewed by the agency they work for, and if it's classified as a "bad shooting" the agent is fired.