2 Hawai‘i police detectives involved in fatal shooting in Kona to return to full duty
March 21, 2023, 4:00 AM HST
* Updated March 21, 6:26 AM
Two Hawai‘i police officers involved in a fatal shooting 11 days ago of a 32-year-old man in Kailua-Kona were cleared to return to full duty on Tuesday, although two separate investigations are still underway, according to Hawaiʻi Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz.
The two detectives are being investigated for their actions during a traffic stop on March 10 that resulted in the death of Kainoa Kahele-Bishop of Kona.
Police say the silver Chevy Malibu that Kahele-Bishop was driving was stopped at an intersection in Kona due to a tip that involved two stolen cars — and attempted murder suspect Ronald Kahihikolo, who had been on the run for three days.
Kahele-Bishop ignored police commands to show his hands and began reaching for an object. Fearing for their safety, the two detectives shot their service guns at Kahele-Bishop, who died at the scene, according to police.
Hawaiʻi police have not publicly identified the two detectives, other than to say one is a 25-year veteran and one is a 13-year veteran. Police declined to say when their names would be released. There is no body camera footage to release because they are plainclothes detectives and do not wear body cameras, Moszkowicz said.
On Monday, Moszkowicz said two separate sections of the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards are conducting investigations.
One section is conducting a routine inquiry that follows all police-involved shootings to identify any potential policy violations of the department.
If any potential violations are found, Moszkowicz said the officers will be investigated consistent with the state’s police union — the State of Hawaiʻi Organization of Police Officers —bargaining unit contract.
Another section of the department’s Office of Professional Standards is investigating if any crimes were committed during the fatal shooting. Following that investigation, the findings will be shared with the Hawaiʻi County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to determine whether charges will be filed.
The criminal investigation is expected to take a few weeks.
Moszkowicz said during a news conference on March 10, the day of the shooting, that he could not say at that time if the shooting was justified.
“Until we actually get a complete statement and a full investigation occurs, it would really be premature for me to opine one way or the other — being ultimately, that is my role at the end of this whole process to come up with a determination as to whether it was justified or not,” Moszkowiz said. “At this point I can’t really express an opinion aside than just expressing the officers felt at the time their lives were in jeopardy and they felt that was the option available to them to protect themselves and other members of the community.”
According to police, plainclothes Area II Vice detectives received information in the morning of March 10 that Kahihikolo — who allegedly shot his domestic partner in the head at pointblank range with a modified shotgun on March 7 in Ocean View — was in Kona. The tipster told police that Kahihikolo was with a group that were in possession of two stolen vehicles, a silver Chevy Malibu and a white Dodge Charger, and were getting gas.
As the detectives canvassed the area, they spotted a Malibu that fit the description as it was traveling southbound on Kamakaeha Avenue.
According to police, as the Malibu came to a stop at the intersection with Palani Road, detectives attempted to contact the vehicle’s driver (later identified as Kahele-Bishop), and his passenger (later identified as 26-year-old Jacqueline Keana’aina of Kona). Kahele-Bishop ignored police commands to show his hands and began reaching for an object.
Fearing for their safety, two detectives discharged their duty weapons, police said.
Kahele-Bishop then drove the vehicle across all lanes of Palani Road and about 10 feet down an embankment before coming to a stop. The detectives ran toward the car, and seeing Kahele-Bishop was injured, immediately began administering life-saving measures. Kahele-Bishop died at the scene, according to police.
Passenger Keanaaina suffered minor injuries in the traffic crash and was treated at the scene by Hawai’i Fire Department medics. She was then arrested for an outstanding warrant and transported to the Kealakehe Police Station.
During the March 10 press conference, Moszkowicz clarified that an earlier police news release saying that two firearms were recovered in the Malibu that Kahele-Bishop was driving was not accurate.
“The vehicle itself … was seized as evidence,” Moszkowicz said. “Until we’re able to obtain a search warrant to get into the vehicle, then we’ll have a chance to recover those things. From the outside looking in we saw what appeared to be two firearms inside the vehicle.”
On March 13, police logs show that Jake Ikaika Kahele-Bishop, brother of the man shot by police, was arrested on first-degree terroristic threatening, possession of marijuana and resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle. Family say the incident occurred in the parking lot of the Kona police station.
The 34-year-old was released on $5,000 bail. No formal charges have been filed in eCourt Kōkua. Requests were made for the arrest reports of the March 13 incident, but Hawai’i police denied the release in writing citing state law and the ongoing investigation.
Jake Kahele-Bishop’s passenger, Kameanui Laenette Tripp-Gouveia, also was arrested for terroristic threatening and possession of marijuana.
Around the same time the shooting incident was taking place, police spotted the believed-to-be stolen Charger, driving by Kahihikolo. He led police on a high-seed chase from Kona to a dirt road off of Highway 19, near mile marker 40. He abandoned the car near a gulch, police said. The next day, police found Kahihikolo and took him into custody.
The 42-year-old woman that Kahihikolo allegedly shot had sought medical attention for the gunshot wound at the Ocean View Fire Station. She was transported to Kona Community Hospital, where she was in stable condition at the time.
Kahihiko also was wanted on outstanding bench warrants and for questioning in other criminal investigations.
Kahihikolo was indicted in 3rd Circuit Court. The county prosecuting attorney’s office filed a motion to hold him on a no-bail warrant. Circuit Court Judge Wendy DeWeese will take up the matter on March 23.