State Addresses Fatal Shooting of Escaping Inmate

(KHNL) - State prison officials are investigating whether a Big Island inmate, who was shot dead Tuesday, was properly restrained.

Authorities say Thane Leialoha somehow managed to get out of a transport van, before a corrections officer gunned him down.

An autopsy on the body of the 28-year-old is scheduled for Friday. Both the Hawaii County Police Department and the state Department of Public Safety have opened investigations into the deadly shooting.

An inmate, on the loose in downtown Hilo, takes a bullet to the head. State prison officials are trying to sort out what happened.

"What is the general policy as far as the use of deadly force?" this reporter asks.

"Unfortunately, I can't reveal that right now, pending investigation, so I don't have any comments on that," Frank Lopez, state public safety interim director, said.

Authorities say a corrections officer shot 28-year-old Thane Leialoha, after the inmate bolted from a transport van Tuesday. The van, carrying a total of 10 inmates, was going from a Big Island courthouse to the Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

Prison officials say inmates being transported are supposed to be in full restraints.

"Chains with handcuffs, and leg restraints or shackles," Lopez said.

Somehow, Leialoha got out of the van at the intersection of Haili and Keawe Streets.

"We would, we would look into that," Lopez said.

Witnesses say the guard gave a warning, then fired the fatal shot to the head.

"The safety of the community is paramount here, yeah," Lopez said. "So in different, there's no training that we have that will apply for all situations."

Leialoha has assault, robbery and drug convictions on his record. Investigators are looking into reports that Leialoha struck the guard before he fled.

"I did hear that part of the story, yeah, but I don't have confirmation at this point," Lopez said.

The guard who fired the shot has been with corrections for five years. He is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.