HPD’s body camera policy once again raising questions following latest police shooting

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 5:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When police shot and killed a man wielding a machete in Kalihi Wednesday morning, one of the officers failed to activate his body camera, multiple sources said.

Lawyers note this is happening too often.

“In every single police shooting in the last year -- and I looked at about four of them now -- one officer left the camera off,” said Jim Bickerton, attorney for Lindani Myeni, the South African native who was killed by officers in Nuuanu in April.

In Myeni’s case, one of the officer didn’t turn on his camera until after he fired his first shots.

Another officer involved in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap also didn’t have his camera on.

Advocates for police openness argue that the body cams are designed to quickly help the public see whether police actions were justified. But the videos of the latest Oahu shooting -- which was taken by another officer whose camera was activated -- will remain under wraps during the investigation.

“I don’t believe we are trying to hide anything. I believe the video should be released and it should be released at an appropriate time,” said Rade Vanic, interim chief of the Honolulu Police Department.

Some have complained that the department’s penalty for officers who fail to trigger the cameras has been too lenient.

Others say the decision to turn on body cameras shouldn’t be left to officers, but should be done automatically whenever they respond to a call.

“It seems illogical that officers who are assigned a body worn camera do not have a built in mechanism that the moment they exit their vehicle for example, it goes on,” said attorney Myles Breiner.

Added lawyer Megan Kau: “We’re looking for transparency -- our community is looking for transparency -- so it is a good idea to keep them on,” she said.

“It keeps the police officers safe, it’s keeps them honest.”

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