EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Ewa Beach man who shot an alleged masked trespasser in the back has been released pending an investigation while authorities decide whether he should be charged with attempted murder or if it was a case of self-defense.
At this point in the investigation, a law expert from the University of Hawaii said, it's nearly impossible to know whether the shooting was justified, even if Hawaii's self-defense law allows people to protect themselves, others and their property.
The shooting happened at a condo on Laaulu Street. Initial reports indicate the resident heard his dogs barking about 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve, just moments before he saw two men wearing masks and army jackets on his property.
He fired a single round and shot one of the alleged suspects in the back.
The associate dean for Student Services at the Richardson School of Law, Ronette Kawakami, believes the shooting could be justified, depending on what the shooter was seeing and feeling at the moment.
"He's claiming that he started to flee, but we don't know if that's true or not. We only got one side," Kawakami said.
"He may have stayed, he may have made a threatening motion towards the person with the gun. You don't know those things. There's a lot of other things that other factors that can be involved that still would justify the shooting."
Kawakami, who was a defense attorney for 26 years, says the fact that the man was shot in the back doesn't mean anything.
"What if you're pulling the trigger as the person is turning? There's a lot of things to look at. Maybe he started to turn when he saw the gun, and by then, the bullet is off. We really don't know," Kawakami said.
Kawakami says the self-defense issue comes up often, like in the case of a fatal stabbing of a man in a Kailua tattoo parlor. Store owner Timothy Goodrich, 43, fatally stabbed Dayson Kaae, 24, after he claimed Kaae punched him in the head.
Police say prosecutors declined charges against Goodrich, saying he acted in self-defense. The prosecutor's office says the Honolulu Police Department hasn't forwarded the Ewa Beach attempted murder case over to them.
It's also unclear if the alleged trespassers will face any charges.