Hilo man charged with shooting two police officers
HILO — Police have charged a 31-year-old Hilo man in connection with a shooting Wednesday night that injured two officers.
Keaka Martin was charged Friday afternoon with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, second-degree reckless endangering and five firearms violations. He remains in police custody without bail and is confined to the Hilo Medical Center in critical condition. Police say he has a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Both officers, 40-year-old Garrett Hatada and 31-year-old Joshua Gouveia, remain at Hilo Medical Center in stable condition with injuries to their lower extremities.
“They’re set to be released as early as next week,” Police Capt. Mitchell Kanehailua of the Hilo Criminal Investigation Division said.
One of the two officers returned fire, according to police. It’s not known whether any of the officer’s bullets found its intended target, but the suspect eluded capture until officers involved in the manhunt, on a tip, tracked him down to an East Palai Street home on Thursday afternoon. Martin reportedly shot himself inside the home as police prepared to enter.
Regardless of whether the suspect was injured by police gunfire, whether police missed the target, or even if the discharge of an officer’s firearm was accidental, the shots fired by police set off an investigation by the department’s Office of Professional Standards, formerly known as Internal Affairs.
“They look into the discharge of the firearm to determine if it was justified or not. All discharges of firearms are looked into by our Internal Affairs unit,” said Capt. Robert Wagner of Hilo Patrol Division. “They’re actually called when those incidents occur, a shooting of a firearm or somebody gets injured in custody, or as a result of being arrested, we call them up. … It’s part of our policy and procedures.”
Kanehailua described it as “a standard administrative investigation.”
“We’re doing the investigation now because it’s a reported incident,” he said. “They get placed on administrative leave, but I think the time the investigation will take will be while they’re still out on medical leave. So we recover the firearm and whatever equipment they had on their person at the time. If they’re cleared, everything is returned and they get placed back on full duty.”
The officers, of course, will have to receive the OK from their physicians before they can return.
“As a policeman, you’ve got to be able to run, not just walk,” Wagner said. “They’re going to have to heal up real good and hopefully, they can return to work.”
Wagner described both Hatada and Gouveia as “good officers” and said they both work the same shift, known as “B watch.”
When officers are injured by gunfire, and when circumstances force them to shoot at another human being, there are often psychological effects, as well, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It affects people differently. It’s an individual thing. Some people seem fine and some don’t. It depends on that certain individual. Some things that would bother one officer might not affect another officer the same way. It depends on the circumstances,” Wagner said.
Asked if there is a requirement for psychological counseling following an incident of this kind, Wagner replied: “It depends on if that type of treatment is needed. They get medical treatment for their injuries. I’m not aware of any other requirement once they’re cleared as fit for duty by their doctor. They’ll be able to return to work.”
Added Kanehailua: “I know for some of the officers, it is tough for them to deal with it. We’re trained that if we’re gonna pull that weapon, we’re gonna take somebody’s life, period. For it to get to that point, especially bullets coming at you — we go through a lot of stuff, but it’s not like you expect that’s gonna happen to you. And when it does, it does affect the officers, their whole mode of thinking. It’s not just the physical injuries. I’m sure there’s gonna be some other scars there.”
Wagner said that revenge for the shooting of the officers was not part of what fueled the manhunt.
“We’re human,” he said. “Of course, we’re upset when one of ours is injured. But we’re also professional and want to catch the bad guy. … It’s just part of our job.
“If you have co-workers who are injured, you go to their aid as much as you can, and show support for them and let them know that you’re there for them. We’re police officers, but we’re the public as well. We’re part of the community. … But they way we work may be different than in most workplaces. You work together a lot and depend on each other. For the most part, everybody gets along. You have to trust and depend on your fellow officers at all times. So when you have somebody in your crew who gets injured, of course you’re gonna be very supportive.”
Police found a 9 mm handgun in the home, and Kanehailua said the officers were injured by 9 mm fire. He said the suspect fired “multiple gunshots” and that spent casings found at the scene indicate that the officer who returned fire discharged his weapon twice.
Police identified Martin from a surveillance video from Hilo Lagoon Centre, where Martin allegedly ran following the shootings.
“We had the surveillance video,” Kanehailua said. “It was a little grainy, but due to the placement of tattoos on his body, we could make it out pretty easily that it was him.”
Kanehailua said that police have not yet been able to talk to Martin, don’t know why the shootings occurred or if Martin was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He added that help from the FBI, the state Department of Public Safety and the public was instrumental in the capture of the suspect.
He also believes that, even with the fatal shooting of a man on the Hilo Bayfront on Dec. 29 and this incident a week later, Hilo is not becoming more urban than small town.
“One of the things we’re hearing is people saying, ‘What’s happening to Hilo?”’ Kanehailua said. “This is not usual, but I don’t think it’s a trend that we’re gonna turn into the Wild West here. … I think we’re still the same old Hilo; it’s just unfortunate these incidents happened so close together. … I don’t think it’s indicative of any trend that it’s becoming more violent here.”