East Hawaii News

More Details Emerge About Officer-Involved Shooting In Hilo

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The officer-involved shooting on Tuesday, Aug. 23, took place on Keawe Street, across from Spencer Health and Fitness Center, near the intersection with Haili Street in downtown Hilo. (Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now)

Ceceilia Cafiero of Hilo was at Hilo Axe Lounge Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 23, getting ready for a business mixer there when she saw several police cars coming down Keawe Street in downtown Hilo.

Police Chief Paul Ferreira revealed additional details Wednesday, Aug. 24, in a video statement about the officer-involved shooting Tuesday, Aug. 23, in downtown Hilo. (Screenshot from video)

“I didn’t know what was happening until I came outside,” she told Big Island Now on Wednesday, Aug. 24, adding that a couple of friends told her they had heard two or three gunshots in the area.

One of those friends who heard gunshots was Cristina Holt, co-owner of Palace Grounds Café inside Hilo Axe Lounge, who was working at the time.

“I was standing outside the lounge (Tuesday) and heard two gunshots back-to-back,” Holt told Big Island Now via text on Wednesday. “It took me a few seconds to process that those were gunshots, and when I did, I was obviously upset and concerned.”

Upon going outside and looking down Keawe Street, she saw a police officer with his gun drawn and within a few minutes later, saw about 10 more police cars arrive. While she didn’t see the incident itself, she guessed that because of the level of response she was witnessing that the officer she saw with his gun drawn had shot someone.

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She and the public learned later that her guess was correct.

Denise Laitinen, public relations specialist with the Hawai’i Police Department, confirmed just before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday that police were investigating an officer-involved shooting on Keawe Street. Police released additional information about the incident, which took place near the intersection with Haili Street, later Tuesday evening.

The incident involved a male party who was cutting himself with a knife on Keawe Street.

“An employee of local business on Keawe Street in Hilo reported a male party cutting himself with a knife, bleeding and screaming at himself,” Police Chief Paul Ferreira said in a video statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Upon responding, officers with the South Hilo Patrol observed the suspect with a knife and gave loud verbal commands for him to put the knife down. Instead, the suspect immediately began to approach an officer. Ferreira described the suspect at a dark-skinned male, about 6 feet tall, wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans. The knife he was holding was described as having a 4-inch blade.

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“The two initial officers that arrived observed the male suspect standing on the sidewalk with a knife in his hand,” Ferreira said. “Upon exiting his patrol vehicle, one of the officers began giving loud verbal commands for the suspect to put down the knife. The suspect then focused his attention on this officer giving the commands and immediately began approaching the officer.”

The suspect ignored the commands and continued advancing on the officer.

“As the officer was backing away from the suspect, he stumbled backwards against a parked vehicle while the suspect still advanced towards him,” Ferreira said.

Bodycam footage released Wednesday by the Hawai‘i Police Department shows the suspect approaching the officer, who has his weapon drawn. The footage shows the officer backing away as the suspect walks toward him.

Photo of bodycam footage released by HPD.

The officer subsequently discharged his duty weapon twice, according to Ferreira, striking the suspect in the leg both times. The bodycam footage shows the suspect falling onto the street, just off the sidewalk, near the grassy parking lot on the corner of Keawe Street and Haili Street. The officer keeps his weapon drawn while the suspect remains on the ground, in a seated position while still holding the knife.

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Ferreira said the suspect was swearing at officers, continuing to ignore commands to drop the knife.

“Officers continued to give verbal commands to drop the knife and cooperate with them so they could help him; however, the suspect continued to refuse to drop the knife,” the chief said.

Additional officers arrived at the scene and a conductive electronic weapon, or CW, was deployed, allowing the officers to gain control of the knife and secure the suspect, according to Ferreira. The suspect can be seen in the bodycam footage falling backward onto his back, after the deployment of the electronic weapon, in the same spot where he fell after being shot.

“Medics, who were staged nearby, immediately arrived on the scene and rendered aid to the suspect and transported him to the Hilo Medical Center,” Ferreira said.

Cafiero and Holt said they saw an ambulance and that a fire truck also respond to the scene of the incident. Holt said the ambulance arrived a few minutes after she saw the additional police cars arrive, with the fire truck arriving later.

The police media release from Tuesday night said police and responding paramedics immediately performed CPR on the suspect prior to him being transported via ambulance to the Hilo hospital. However, Ferreira clarified in his statement Wednesday that CPR was not administered by police or medical personnel at the scene.

“That was stated in error in our initial release,” the chief said.

Ferreira identified the suspect as 41-year-old Jordan Cacatian, who has had numerous police contacts prior to Tuesday’s incident. Laitinen said Wednesday that police records indicate he is from Mountain View.

Cacatian sustained self-inflicted lacerations to both his wrists, resulting in nerve damage, and two gunshot wounds to his left leg, shattering a bone in the lower part of his leg.

“Cacatian has undergone surgery for his injuries and is in stable condition,” the chief said.

Ferreira said Cacatian remains in police custody at Hilo Medical Center for the offenses of first-degree terroristic threatening and first-degree attempted assault of a law enforcement officer.

There were no reported injuries to bystanders or any of the responding officers.

The incident happened at about 4 p.m. Tuesday. Police subsequently closed down Keawe Street from Mamo Street to Kalākaua Street, alerting the public shortly after 5 p.m. about the closure, which they said at the time was because of police activity in the area.

Zak Silva-Sampaio of Hilo was at Spencer Health and Fitness Center, across the street from where the incident happened, by 6 p.m. Tuesday to work out.

“I saw the police putting down the yellow flags on what appeared to be dark stains on the road and sidewalk on Keawe Street,” Silva-Sampaio told Big Island Now via text Wednesday. “There were about 10 or so flags.”

Police reported at 6:17 p.m. Tuesday that the roadway was reopen.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigation Section are investigating the incident. The Office of Professional Standards also initiated a standard internal administrative investigation.

The officer involved in the shooting, a 14-year veteran of the department, was placed on administrative leave pending an internal review of the incident.

Anyone who might have witnessed the incident is asked to call the police department’s nonemergency line at 808-935-3311 or contact Detective John Balberde with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at 808-961-2386 or via email at [email protected].

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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