The Honolulu Police Department held a press conference Thursday afternoon to address an officer-involved shooting in Waikiki.
The incident, which was first reported at about 8:10 p.m. Wednesday on Kuhio Avenue and Liliuokalani Avenue, ended with the death of a 52-year-old Manoa man.
Sources have identified him as Richard Nelson.
According to police, an officer was responding to a damage incident on a city bus on Kuhio Avenue and, while on scene, observed a blue Volkswagen Jetta rear-end the bus.
When the officer approached the vehicle, he saw the driver drinking an alcoholic beverage and asked him to exit the car.
Sources say Nelson took a swig from a beer bottle right in front of the officer.
Police say the driver refused several orders by the officer and instead, made a U-turn in the middle of Kuhio Avenue, sped off and hit a tree on the sidewalk, narrowly missing pedestrians.
The officer followed on foot and again ordered the driver to exit the car. The driver refused again, and instead reversed the car, nearly hitting the officer and prompting the officer to fire five rounds at the driver.
Police say multiple shots hit the victim in the torso.
Police say the Jetta traveled two more blocks and hit a second tree. The impact was strong enough to separate the engine block from the vehicle.
The man was hospitalized in extremely critical condition and later died. The officer was not injured.
Police say Kuhio Avenue was busy with both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. “This was an unfortunate incident and we are very, very lucky that other people weren’t injured or killed,” said Deputy Chief Dave Kajihiro.
Following standard procedure, the Honolulu Police Department has placed the officer on administrative leave during an investigation.
“It’s a split decision,” said Maj. Lester Hite. “Officers make them all the time, and at that time the officer determined the best choice of action was to fire.”
“Do we let the driver go on and strike pedestrians or do we try and stop the threat? In this case he decided to stop the threat,” said Kajihiro.
Nelson doesn’t have any prior convictions, but he was charged with driving under the influence and two hit-and-runs last October.
Those cases were scheduled for a court hearing later next month.
Police say the officer has been with the department for six years and was assigned to the Waikiki district.
Police say the department takes training and procedure very seriously and reviews incidents on a daily basis.
According to HPD, there have been seven fatal officer-involved shootings in the last five years.