Suspect at large after unprovoked attack on Honolulu public defender

IWILEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man who attacked a deputy public defender Thursday remains on the run.

The attack happened about 6:30 p.m. at the public defender's office in Iwilei. Chief Deputy Public Defender Timothy Ho said someone was knocking on a side door that leads to their offices when one of the deputy public defenders opened it.

"The person then started swearing and started hitting our attorney repeatedly until he fell to the ground and continued to beat on our attorney," Ho said.

Ho said the suspect allegedly knew one of the public defender's clients, but the attack was unprovoked.

He said the suspect was asking for help and the attorney was trying to help him. The attorney was taken to the emergency room and is now recovering at home.

"He is battered and bruised but other than suffering bruises, swelling and cut to his eye, he seems to have no other lasting injuries," said Ho.

Ho said there used to be cameras in the hallway but they were removed. He said they are requesting the cameras be reinstalled and hopefully hire a security guard to patrol the area.

Law experts say attacks on public defenders are very rare.

"An assault against a public defender, at least in Hawaii, is few and far between. In 30 years doing criminal defense work, I only know of four instance where that occurred," said Ronette Kawakami, University of Hawaii's William S. Richardson School of Law's associate dean for Student Services.

Kawakami said because of the latest assault, it is now something they will ask their students to be more mindful of.

Both Ho and Kawakami said it is not going to stop how hard public defenders fight for their clients.

"Getting assaulted by our clients, or people who we help, is not really in the forefront of our mind. Public defenders, we're here because we like helping people, we like helping people who are less fortunate. Our attorney answered the door because he thought somebody needed help," Ho said.

"It really shows how much public defenders, as people, in their character, want to help. Because my understanding, the alleged perpetrator was not a client, but asked for help and the public defender went out and helped him," said Kawakami.

The public defender's office says the suspect goes by the name of "Andrew." He is in his 30's, about 6-foot-1, and 190 pounds. He has short black hair, a goatee and brown eyes.

"If anybody knows anything about somebody who may have shown up bloodied because there was a lot of blood, the person must of had blood on him, maybe bloodied knuckles, or somebody who talked about assaulting someone or hitting someone at the public defender's office, we would appreciate any help," Ho said.

Anyone with information, call Crime Stoppers at 955-8300.

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