HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy could still be fired from his job even if he's found not guilty of murder, a Honolulu legal expert who specializes in representing federal employees said Tuesday.
Deedy had been in a non-law enforcement, administrative desk assignment since he shot Kollin Elderts to death in a Waikiki McDonalds in late 2011, State Department officials said. Once Deedy's murder trial began, he was put on paid administrative leave from his job as a special agent protecting diplomats while he defends himself against murder charges in a Honolulu courtroom, according to State Department officials.
"I think it's part of the American tradition and constitutionally that you're innocent until proven guilty," said Honolulu labor attorney Elbridge Smith specializes in representing federal employees, and has FBI and Customs agents among his clients.
Smith estimates that Deedy's State Department salary is at least $95,000, not including overtime.
While Deedy is fighting criminal charges, he's also the focus of an internal investigation by the State Department for the fatal shooting of Elderts.
"So the question will be whether he acted appropriately from an administrative standpoint," Smith said. "It will be up to the agency to decide how he acted and whether that was within their guidelines."
Even if Deedy beats the murder charge but is convicted of a felony firearm violation, Smith said he would likely lose his job.
"Normally agents who are convicted of a crime, especially if it's a felony, they would be removed because they can't testify. A U.S. attorney won't take an agent who's been convicted of a crime in any case," Smith said.
The nonprofit Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association is seeking donations from its members for Deedy's legal bills.
In a separate effort, Deedy's supporters have created a web site called DeedySupport.com, hoping to raise $50,000 to help him pay for his defense.
The Web site said a similar case against a federal alcohol tobacco and firearms agent who shot and killed a man when he intervened in a domestic dispute in the Virgin Islands was very costly.
The defense bills for the ATF officer who went to trial there came out to more than $800,000, the Web site said.
The State Department said Deedy has not been disciplined yet and its internal investigation most likely will not be finished before the end of his murder trial in Honolulu.