Legal group to analyze spike of deadly officer-involved shootings around Hawaii

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 5:47 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recent rash of fatal officer-involved shootings is prompting a group at the University of Hawaii Law School to review the deadly trend.

The UH Law School’s Civil Rights Workshop will study one of the most recent incidents, the shooting death of Dana Brown near Campbell Industrial Park.

“We’ve seen a number of these shootings going around the state of Hawaii in a short period of time. So it makes you wonder if training is an issue,” said Ken Lawson of the law school.

Back in December, Brown was on driving on the wrong side of the road on a stolen moped, carrying a knife, when he got shot and killed by an officer.

Brown failed to heed several commands by the officer to drop the knife and surrender before he was tased and then shot four times.

A preliminary investigation cleared the officer to return to work, but Lawson said the officer should have done a better job to de-escalate the situation.

“The fact that a person does not obey the command of a police officer, death should not be a penalty for that," Lawson said.

But law enforcement expert Tommy Aiu believes that the officer had little choice.

“In (the officer’s) mind, that possession of a knife puts him in a zone of danger. The zone of danger is within 20 to 21 feet," said Aiu. “If the suspect does not comply and the suspect is still in possession of that knife, then he is justified in stopping the threat by using lethal force.”

The Civil Rights Workshop said if its investigation does find that excessive force was used, it could file a lawsuit.

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