The accidental shooting by an off-duty police officer inside a Target store brings up questions regarding what police are telling the public.
The shooting happened Saturday night inside the bathroom. Nobody was hurt and the officer called 911 after the incident.
But there was no report of the shooting in the records that are made available to the public. So if a viewer did not tell us via Report It, we might never have known about it.
KHON2 spoke with a defense attorney and the executive director of a legal group that specializes in public information. They say this type of information should be made available to the public.
The officer was in the restroom when he accidentally fired his gun, and the pictures sent to us by a viewer shows the bullet ricocheted off the stall door and hit another stall.
Officers investigated after the 911 call was made but there were no reports available to the public.
The same thing happened last month when an officer accidentally fired his gun and killed himself at home.
Every day, reporters come to the Honolulu Police Dept.’s main headquarters to look at the arrest log, which lists who’s been arrested. There are also highlights of incidents that police officers respond to.
But in the cases of those accidental shootings, there was no information.
“I find it very surprising that HPD would not have generated some type of report, like a reckless endangering where there is a discharge of a firearm. If they had, that should have been made public,” said defense attorney Victor Bakke.
R. Brian Black, executive director of the non-profit group Civil Beat Law Center, says the public has a right to know.
“Whether they’re on duty or off duty, it’s important to know what the police procedures are with regard to that and how they handle situations like this, how they investigate them,” he said.
Black points out that the information can be made available after the investigation is finished, and that’s something that goes with the guidelines of the State Office of Information Practices.
KHON2 called HPD and was told it will provide some information, but could not say when the investigation will be done.
HPD also says the officer will remain on patrol during the investigation.
Bakke says that doesn’t make sense “because any time there’s a discharge of a firearm by a police officer, it’s standard procedure that they’re put on desk duty basically.”
HPD says it’s not necessary.
“At this time, we feel that he’s not endangering the public,” said police chief Louis Kealoha. “He didn’t do a criminal act. It was an accidental discharge. We’re doing an administrative investigation, not a criminal investigation.”
KHON2 has requested an audio copy of the 911 call by the police officer.
HPD says it is being used in the investigation, so we’ve asked to get the copy when the investigation is done.