Airport security officer apologizes to family for shooting death of dog

What was supposed to be a fresh start for a Hawaii Island family has now turned into a nightmare.

We were the first to tell you that a family’s pet dog was shot and killed by a security officer at Honolulu International Airport Tuesday night.

On Wednesday night, KHON2 spoke to that very Securitas officer. We are not identifying him at this time, as the incident remains under investigation and he has not been arrested for any crime.

The officer said he could not discuss the details of what happened, but did want to offer an apology to the family:

“I just want to say I’m terribly sorry that your dog was put down. That wasn’t my intention when I walked up to you folks to ask you to move your things. I was just doing my job, and I’m terribly sorry that you lost that dog. My condolences to you, Miss Ramos, and your child, and to the boyfriend. I’m terribly sorry what happened.”

Leisha Ramos told KHON2 that losing Kaiele, her 2-year-old pit bull mix, “feels like a nightmare I want to wake up from. I know he’s just a dog, but it’s like losing a family member. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat.”

Ramos, her 5-month-old baby, and Kaiele were by the drive-thru check-in section of Hawaiian Airlines Tuesday night. They had just flown in from Hawaii Island.

Ramos says her family was putting luggage in the car when a security officer at Honolulu International Airport told them they had to leave. The family did not want any trouble, and she says her dog was no threat.

She says a verbal argument escalated between her boyfriend and the armed Securitas employee.

“He told us we need to leave, and my boyfriend said, ‘Okay, we’re just loading everything.’ (The officer) said, ‘No, you guys need to leave. Your dog doesn’t belong here. You need to leave or I’ll take care of it’ while taking out his gun and walking towards us,” Ramos said. “My boyfriend was telling him, ‘What are you going to do? Shoot my dog? And my dog was chained.”

Ramos says somehow the dog’s chain broke loose during the argument, so she held onto the other end.

“I’m holding him, holding (my baby) at the same time,” she said. “Finally, he just pulls. He’s running to my boyfriend to see if he’s okay. He gets shot. He wasn’t running aggressively. His tail was still wagging.”

“So your dog was running toward the security guard?” KHON2 asked.

“To my boyfriend,” Ramos replied, “because they’re right next to each other.”

That’s when, Ramos says, the officer shot Kaiele once between the eyes. Stunned, Ramos says the officer then walked away.

“He spoke to his walkie-talkie and said, ‘Shots was fired,’ and he walked away. That’s all he did, walked away,” she said, “and I’m screaming, ‘You shot my dog!’ trying to hold his head up from bleeding, but he died instantly. I thought he got tased or something. I didn’t think it was an actual handgun.”

Ramos says her questions are endless. Why was a handgun used in the first place? Why was the officer armed?

“Before it all happens, like why are you approaching with a gun when I’m sitting on the grass? My dog is on the ground laying next to me, and my daughter is in my lap. There’s no threat,” Ramos said. “If there was a designated area for the dog, he should have recommended that before he pulled out a gun. He should have. (My dog) wasn’t mean. He wasn’t going to hurt nobody. He didn’t hurt nobody. Why won’t they take other precautions?”

Kaiele (Photo: Leisha Ramos)

For now, she is trying to heal from the painful loss.

“I’m trying to convince myself that he didn’t do it on purpose, but I would like an apology,” she said. “It was wrong how he handled it. That would be really nice to get an apology. (Kaiele) wasn’t just an ordinary dog. He was my son.”

Ramos says Kaiele’s body is currently with state sheriffs because it’s an active investigation.

“That’s what I was doing, trying to get my dog home,” Ramos said. “I trusted them that my dog would be safe, and they killed him. They killed him.”

We tried to get answers from the Hawaii Department of Transportation and Securitas. Learn more about those efforts here.

The Department of Public Safety released the following statement Wednesday: “There is an active investigation into yesterday’s incident at the airport being conducted by State Sheriffs. It would be premature to release findings until the investigation is complete.”

The airport does have several relief areas for service animals, pets in transit, and working animals.

There is a fenced-in grassy area between the international and overseas parking lots.

There’s also a relief area at the interisland terminal ground level, in the C.B. Lansing Garden and in the Overseas Terminal Central Concourse ground level in the Hawaiian Garden.

While in those areas, all animals must remain on a leash and under the direct control of their owner or handler.

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