New details about murder outside Kapolei station raises questions about HPD response

Details about a murder on the footsteps of Kapolei police station that were revealed in court this week raise questions about whether Honolulu’s acting police
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 4:51 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2022 at 5:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New details about a murder on the footsteps of Kapolei police station raise questions about whether Honolulu’s acting police chief was hiding information about what occurred or didn’t know the facts weeks after the killing.

Testimony from a witness at suspect Michael Armstrong’s preliminary hearing Wednesday revealed that no one from inside the Kapolei police station responded as victim Linda Johnson was being bludgeoned to death Feb. 15 with a tree stump, right outside the front door.

During the hearing, Thomas Smith said he couldn’t see what Armstrong was hitting but that the onslaught lasted between 20 and 30 minutes.

“I could see the tree area getting punched to the point where a tree got punched loose and ripped out,” Smith said, in court. “I could see that person slamming the tree to the ground you could actually hear that sound.”

Smith was inside the station lobby at the time.

When he walked out, he said, he saw Michael Armstrong standing over the 48-year-old Johnson.

He says he ran back inside the station for help and pounded on the glass at the front desk. When no one responded he said he called 911.

Two weeks after the murder, at a meeting March 2, members of the Honolulu Police Commission had a lot of questions about the case.

“I did wonder why nobody was around or nobody intervened or was the timing so quick,” said commissioner Richard Parry. “I’m wondering if you could tell me what happened.”

Acting Police Chief Rade Vanic responded:

“You know I’m not familiar with the very specific area where the incident occurred. Of course that will be apart of the investigation as to where it did occur, what type of surveillance possibly was available, if officers were in the area. Where they were.”

Records show Armstrong had been released from jail minutes before the attack.

The 35-year-old, who suffers from mental illness, had been arrested the day before for punching an officer but prosecutors didn’t immediately pursue charges.

“The failures are just beyond words. It’s incredible,” said Tony Armstrong, the suspect’s father. He said Armstrong needed to go to the State Hospital and shouldn’t have been able to walk free.

Now, he’s calling for HPD to release all of its surveillance video both before and after the killing.

“That will obviously give us more answers,’ Armstrong said. “But there better not be any attempts to hide this or cover it up. The truth is the truth. So just let it out. Whatever it is.”

Hawaii News Now asked HPD to respond to the new claims.

A spokesperson said, “The Professional Standards Office is currently looking into the incident to provide better clarity as to what actions were taken that night.”


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