GRAPHIC: Settlement reached with family 5 years after police fatally shot man
WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now has learned that the city has paid $650,000 to the family of a mentally ill Waipahu man who was killed by police in 2013.
Taser camera video obtained from Honolulu Police shows one officer tasing 43-year-old Victor Rivera while another officer shoots at him 14 times. Nine rounds hit Rivera, killing him.
"I've seen a lot of bad stuff, but it was like they were shooting a dog," said Michael Green, attorney for Rivera's family. "The first shot goes off not even a full second after they tased the guy. And they don't stop shooting."
Police were dispatched to Rivera's home around 3:00 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2013 after receiving a dropped 911 call by a family member.
Green said Rivera was diagnosed as schizophrenic and had stopped taking his anti-depressant medication.
That night, Rivera had gotten into an argument with father, who didn't want him to leave the house. The younger Rivera then threatened his father with a mango picker, or a tree saw.
The taser video shows that as police arrived, Rivera again grabbed the mango picker as he walked toward the officers.
"We're the police. We're here to help you," one officer said, ordering Rivera to halt.
A second officer, who was armed with the taser, told Rivera to put down the mango picker before deploying the electronic device.
"Put it down, don't, don't don't, taser, taser, taser... drop it," the officer said.
Within a second, another officer opened fire, emptying his clip.
Green said the officers knew Rivera was mentally ill and could have avoided the confrontation.
The week before the shooting, a separate group of police officers were called to the home after Rivera was acting up, he said.
But they were able to de-escalate the situation by getting family members to talk to Rivera who then got him into an ambulance, taking him to a local hospital. Green said police didn't do that the night they shot Rivera.
"He was never going to hurt anybody," Green said. "When they said he had that big stick with a knife at the end to cut fruit, he couldn't even hold the stick up."
At the moment of the shooting, the video camera focused on the ground and you can't see if Rivera is continuing to approach the officers with the mango stick.
If Rivera was moving forward then, one expert who reviewed the video said the shooting would have been justified.
"If that's what happened, then the officers are justified in using that lethal force because of that blade and because of the distance between the suspect and the officers," said Tom Au, former DEA agent and former professor of criminal administration at Chamberlain University.
According to police, all four officers at the scene are still on the force.
Their disciplinary records are confidential. And because the five-year old case is still being reviewed by the prosecutor's office, the case file is also secret.
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