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11/20/2019 5:07:11 PM
Posted: 4/12/2006 8:42:42 AM EST
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Posted on: Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Fleeing inmate killed by corrections officer


By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — A handcuffed inmate who bolted from a prison van at a busy downtown Hilo intersection yesterday was fatally shot in the head by a corrections officer, witnesses said.

Police said the inmate, identified as Thane K. Leialoha, 28, of Hilo, was pronounced dead at 5:56 p.m. at Hilo Medical Center. The shooting happened on a street in the business district between a health club and an Italian restaurant.

Police blocked off the area around the intersection at Haili Street and Kilauea Avenue for about three hours while investigating the alleged escape attempt and the shooting.

Peter Cabreros, acting warden at Hawai'i Community Correctional Center, said the van was returning to the jail when the incident occurred. Department of Public Safety vans regularly shuttle inmates between HCCC and the Hilo State Building for court appearances.

A news release by the state Department of Public Safety said Leialoha was shot by an HCCC corrections officer while trying to escape at about 1 p.m. Leialoha was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police ordered an autopsy.

Hawaiian Beaches resident Sheldon Haili, 30, said he was on the sidewalk fronting Spencer Health and Fitness Center at the intersection of Haili and Kilauea when he saw a handcuffed man in a brown jumpsuit run from a van stopped in the street. Haili said he recognized the inmate as an acquaintance. He said the fleeing man ran 10 to 15 yards toward the ocean when a uniformed corrections officer fired one shot from a pistol, striking the inmate in the back of the head.

The inmate dropped to the pavement and was motionless, he said. The corrections officer ran to the downed prisoner and sat on him to restrain him before holstering his pistol and dialing a wireless phone, Haili said.

"I was telling him, 'Why you gotta shoot him in the head? Why you never shoot him in the leg?' " Haili said. "He said, 'Just get away from here.' "

Haili said the prisoner was handcuffed, but did not have foot shackles.

Krissa Kealoha, 18, was working at the Kilauea 76 Station across the street when she heard a single shot and looked out the window.

She said the side door to the prison van was ajar and the driver jumped out and sprinted around the front of the vehicle to hold the side door shut to prevent about a half-dozen other inmates from exiting.

"It was pretty fast," she said.

Leialoha had a criminal history that included eight convictions, according to the Hawai'i Criminal Justice Data Center.

He had been held at the Hawai'i Community Correctional Center since Sunday for violating terms of his parole, according to the Department of Public Safety.

On Dec. 12, 2002, Leialoha was sentenced to five years in prison after he was found guilty of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, court records show. Last October, he was found guilty of failing to make a court appearance and contempt of court and received a seven-day sentence.

In August 1998, Leialoha was found guilty of second-degree assault and second-degree robbery, both felonies, and sentenced to one year in prison and five years probation. He also was ordered to pay $2,278 in restitution.

In August 2001, a summons was issued for Leialoha's arrest after he violated terms of his probation, according to court records. A Big Island judge resentenced him to a year in prison and five years probation.

Yesterday's incident was not the first time Big Isle corrections officers have used gunfire in an attempt to stop an escapee.

On Jan. 28, 2005, guards were escorting HCCC inmate Winston Hoapili to an appointment at the Ponahawai Medical Clinic near the jail when he jumped into a waiting car and sped away. One of the guards fired a single shot at the vehicle, but no one was injured. Hoapili was captured Feb. 10, 2005.

The most recent escape by an HCCC prisoner occurred March 6 when inmate Arthur Clayton bolted from the Hilo Medical Center emergency room. He was caught March 28.

Staff writer Curtis Lum contributed to this report.


Even though the con was running handcuffed, he was still running. I couldn't have made that shot if I had a thousand attempts. Another thing, it sounds like this happened I a pretty congested area. Was it the smartest thing for the officer to do?
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 4:17:36 PM EST
Why didnt they just call Dog the Bounty Hunter?

I think I could make a 15 yard headshot pretty regurally, though in a crowded area like that, I dont think I would have taken it, too much risk of an inncoent getting hurt.

Whatever happened to chasing down the bastard?

Did they only have one CO in the van, that seems stupid
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 4:26:00 PM EST

Originally Posted By uafgrad:
Why didnt they just call Dog the Bounty Hunter?

I think I could make a 15 yard headshot pretty regurally, though in a crowded area like that, I dont think I would have taken it, too much risk of an inncoent getting hurt.

Whatever happened to chasing down the bastard?

Did they only have one CO in the van, that seems stupid


Things are done a little differently in this state, but even more so on the Big Island (or Hawaii island, Hawaii County). The oldest of The Old Boys Network. Not much will come of this. The officer, although most certainly in the wrong, will be let off. And that will be that.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 5:57:21 PM EST
I knew this guy who applied for a corrections officer position in Hawaii. One of the questions asked in the interview went something like "If you saw you an inmate climbing a fence attempting to escape, what would you do?"

"Shoot him." He replied.

Interviewer shook his head, looked down at his papers and the interview was over. I can't imagine this guy getting away with what he did. He really didn't have to kill him.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 11:48:26 PM EST
I say its a good shoot, nobody was injured and one less institutionalized to pay for.
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 9:35:49 AM EST
Well they have to prove that he was aiming for his head. I may be wrong but I doubt he was aiming for his head in a situation of these conditions. Even if he was aiming for his head it's even more unlikely that he would hit him there. I'm saying lucky shot.

Also the part about shooting him in the leg makes me shake my head. I agree that we should be able to shoot someone in the leg to "stop" them but sue happy America says otherwise. If he had been shot in the leg this guy would be under fire for making the inmate suffer. People really need to start seeing the big picture. Lucky you live Hawaii.
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 7:06:35 PM EST
It was a good shot in my opinion.

I use to work in Juvinile corrections a few years back. We were instructed to just let them go.

That was about 10 years ago.


Robert
Link Posted: 4/13/2006 9:44:33 PM EST

Originally Posted By 20rdMag:
It was a good shot in my opinion.

I use to work in Juvinile corrections a few years back. We were instructed to just let them go.

That was about 10 years ago.


Robert



I dont know of any state that will shoot juvies, most places Im familiar with use physical restraint by staff members.
Link Posted: 4/14/2006 12:33:40 AM EST
fleeing felon

I'm suprised at the quick judgments being made here regarding the ACO's actions especially by those who weren't there.

Link Posted: 4/14/2006 7:40:18 AM EST
You run, you takes your chances, you know the risk. Apparently the inmate thought it was worth it, and his consideration was his own business and nobody else's. If you don't like his choice, tough noogies.
Link Posted: 4/14/2006 11:05:46 AM EST

Originally Posted By AK_Mike:
You run, you takes your chances, you know the risk. Apparently the inmate thought it was worth it, and his consideration was his own business and nobody else's. If you don't like his choice, tough noogies.



Exactly.
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