KEALAKEKUA — More than 10 shots were fired during a pursuit last week that injured the driver of the suspected vehicle in the arm, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing Tuesday.
Hawaii Police officers Kaea Sugata and Conrad Iranon took the stand and detailed their part in Thursday evening’s pursuit for 25-year-old Harvey Damo Jr., of Hilo. Damo is facing two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree reckless endangering and one count each of first-degree resisting an order to stop, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, fourth-degree theft and fourth-degree criminal property damage.
Shevylyn Klaus, 25, also of Hilo, who was also within the vehicle at the time of the incident, was released pending further investigation. It’s never been confirmed that this incident was connected to Justin Waiki, who died in a shootout with police while on the run after he shot and killed a Hawaii police officer.
Police initially began following a truck Damo later was identified to be driving Thursday afternoon after receiving reports that Waiki was seen inside.
An islandwide manhunt had been underway since July 17 after Waiki allegedly shot and killed Officer Bronson Kaliloa in Mountain View along Highway 11. Hawaii Police reached out to the public asking for tips in hopes of apprehending the 33-year-old.
On Thursday, police received a tip indicating he was in a vehicle that Damo was later identified to be driving.
The first witness to take the stand Tuesday, Kenneth Kauhi Keliiaa Jr., with cable company Spectrum, testified that a truck from their baseyard was stolen on July 13. That truck was later identified as the vehicle being driven by Damo during the Thursday incident.
Sugata was next to take the stand. He testified that he followed reports of the suspected vehicle to Ka Hale Kahaluu off of Makolea Street near Keauhou. He stated there was a heightened awareness because of the search for Waiki.
The suspected truck was backed into a stall at the housing complex. Sugata testified he noticed two people inside the vehicle and a third man outside of it. He immediately announced himself and had his duty firearm at the “ready position,” meaning it was out of its holster and he was holding it at mid-chest, pointed toward the ground.
“I gave verbal commands to show hands and ordered him out of the vehicle,” Sugata told the court.
At that point, Sugata stated, the driver turned the car on and accelerated out of the stall, driving toward him.
“It made me fear for my life,” the officer testified.
Again, Sugata said he told the driver of the vehicle stop. The driver then reversed onto the sidewalk, into the grass and turned to exit out of the housing complex.
Sugata testified that he discharged his weapon three or four times.
“I believed he was going to get out of the parking lot by any means necessary,” he told the court.
Sugata stated he contacted dispatch to inform them that the driver had fled the scene.
The third to take the stand was Iranon. He said he saw the vehicle by Kamehameha III Road. He pursued the truck along the Mamalahoa Bypass.
Iranon testified that he attempted to make a traffic stop by illuminating his lights. He added that the vehicle was crossing the double yellow line, passing several vehicles at a time and traveling at twice the posted speed limits at times during his pursuit.
Several police officers eventually joined the chase.
The driver eventually turned off Highway 11. Iranon told the court that he suspected the driver turned on Keala O Keawe Road, which was later confirmed by bystanders in the area.
A perimeter was set up in the areas of Napoopoo, Painted Church and Middle Keei roads. Iranon testified he heard reports from officers via radio that the suspect was traveling south on Napoopoo Road.
Iranon stated he stopped his car on Napoopoo Road in a 45-degree angle and was attempting to get out when the suspect drove toward him.
“I believed they were gonna run me over,” he stated. “I feared for my own safety.”
Iranon testified he fired at least 10 shots at the car, aiming at the driver.
Damo, again, eluded capture. Iranon went on to state that it was bystanders that showed police where the suspected truck was parked on a private road near Middle Keei.
Iranon told the court there was blood on the driver’s side and passenger’s side inside the vehicle as well as bullet holes in the windshield and driver’s side door.
Damo and Klaus were located hours later after searching the countryside. Damo was treated for his injuries at Kona Community Hospital.
Detective Pernell Hanoa took the stand following Iranon and testified that authorities learned Damo was on probation of third-degree promotion of drugs and unauthorized us d of a vehicle.
District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga found probable cause on all counts to move the case into 3rd Circuit Court. Damo’s next scheduled court appearance is Aug. 2.