Police custody death investigation continues

A 64-year-old Captain Cook man remained hospitalized in critical condition Monday, two days after suffering injuries during a confrontation with a 29-year-old man who later died in police custody.

The identity of the 29-year-old decedent remains withheld, however, his last known residence was in Hilo, according to Hawaii Police Department Area II Capt. Thomas Shopay. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death.


The confrontation ensued at a Captain Cook residence off Old Mamalahoa Highway following what the department’s termed a “crime spree” that began with a report of a maroon-colored Scion driving in a reckless manner on Highway 11 in Ka’u Saturday morning. At 11:57 a.m., dispatch received a report of a traffic crash in South Kona with the responsible vehicle described as a maroon-colored Scion that had fled northbound on the highway.

Less than 10 minutes later, a witness reported seeing a maroon-colored Scion on the northbound shoulder of Highway 11 and the man who was driving the vehicle walk onto a property in the area. Shortly thereafter, dispatch received another call reporting a man was attempting to break in to a vehicle on the same property. When the homeowners confronted the man, he reportedly began damaging the residence.

The 64-year-old Captain Cook man, identified as a relative of the home’s occupants who lives nearby, arrived on scene to assist the homeowners, police said. A firearm was subsequently discharged, however, no one was injured. Shopay said Monday the firearm has been recovered by police, but did not say to whom it belonged.

The confrontation then escalated into an assault with the 29-year-old man reported to be the aggressor, police said. Passers-by observed the assault and stopped to assist.

​​At 12:27 p.m., officers arrived on scene and requested medical attention for both men. The 29-year-old man was then taken into police custody at which point officers determined he was unresponsive and performed CPR. He was taken by medics to Kona Community Hospital and pronounced dead.

The 64-year-old man was also taken to Kona Community Hospital and later transferred to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu. He was last listed in critical condition.


Anyone with information regarding the incidents is encouraged to contact Detective Donovan Kohara at (808) 326-4646, ext. 238, or via email at donovan.kohara@hawaiicounty.gov. They may also contact the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.

As is standard practice in any police-involved death, the police department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation. Shopay did not provide details on the number of officers involved and whether they have been placed on administrative leave amid the probe.

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