City prosecutor pledges change to how investigations of police killings are handled

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:06 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - New city Prosecutor Steve Alm pledged Thursday to change the way investigations of police killings are handled in the wake of two fatal shootings this month.

“This is a new administration and we are looking at all of the practices and procedures, and we are going to do things differently,” Alm said, during a news conference Thursday.

Alm said he would be assigning teams of seasoned prosecutors and investigators to the two cases — the fatal police shootings of 29-year-old Lindani Myeni on April 14 and 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap on April 5.

“This is not to say that HPD did not do a thorough, professional job in each case,” Alm said, adding that HPD has been cooperating with prosecutors and has sent them evidence, including body camera footage.

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Tom Brady, a deputy prosecutor, told Honolulu Civil Beat the current process of fatal police shootings is “flawed,” largely because the Honolulu Police Department investigates itself.

According to Civil Beat, prosecutors were also not allowed to question the officers involved and the findings were kept secret.

In 2018, prosecutors were banned from officer-involved shooting scenes altogether, Brady said. That was around the same time that former Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro was identified as a target of a federal investigation.

Critics say police cannot objectively investigate their own colleagues, calling the system “tainted.” They point to the recent deadly shooting of 29-year-old Lindani Myeni.

Acting Deputy Chief Allan Nagata said in a press conference he was proud of the officers’ actions and that they were in a “fight for their lives.”

Although HPD’s process of investigating itself is not unique, Civil Beat found that several other cities and states have implemented models that are more open and transparent.

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