Officers take stand in attempted murder trial

  • Shannon Ke, left, consults with Deputy Public Defender James Greenberg at his trial for attempted murder of a police officer Tuesday in Circuit Court. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Trial continued Tuesday for a Kailua-Kona man accused of attempted murder of a Hawaii Department officer in 2019 in Kailua Village.

Shannon Kaleolani Ke is charged with first-degree attempted murder with the enhancement of a hate crime, disorderly conduct, first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest in connection with the 2019 incident on the shoreline fronting Huggo’s On The Rocks.

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Officer Randall Hancock was cross-examined by Deputy Public Defender James Greenberg about the incident involving Ke. Hancock admitted to Greenberg that he had no detailed knowledge of Hawaiian cultural practices and grew up on the mainland.

“Is it fair to say your presence made him angry?” Greenberg asked.

“I was just trying to talk to him,” responded Hancock.

Greenberg questioned Hancock as to the wisdom of attempting to use a Taser on Ke so close to the water. He noted the devise emits 50,000 volts and is designed to cause neuromuscular collapse, can cause cardiac arrest and even death.

“Tasing someone on a cliff could cause them to fall in the ocean and drown,” Greenberg said. “You had about 100 pounds on him. He wasn’t causing any problems sitting there. You pulled out your Taser, which looks like a weapon. When you were fighting in the water, my client got the best of you.”

The next witness to take the stand was a patron who was dining at Huggo’s at the time of the incident. The individual, who now resides in Hilo, was a 15-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. He testified Ke was shouting to the wind, and swinging a bottle of vodka as he was yelling. He said when Ke and Hancock tumbled into the water, he saw Ke pull Hancock under the water three to four times. He also provided a cell phone video of the end of the confrontation.

Under cross-examination, Greenberg stated “police officers stick together. They have each other’s backs and practice the ‘blue wall of silence.’”

Officer Kaneala Abaya then took the stand and recounted the situation for prosecutors. He said when he came to the water’s edge he saw Ke holding Hancock underwater and also saw Ke punch Hancock in the face. When Abaya went into the water, he recognized Ke and told him “Shannon, Shannon, enough already.”

He saw Hancock coming out of the water gasping for air with a bloody face.

“He called me a traitor because I took Hancock’s side over his,” Abaya recalled.

During cross-examination, Greenberg said Abaya did in fact take Hancock’s side.

“Police officers have each others’ back. You are a brotherhood. You bleed blue,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg said it is an indigenous Hawaiian right to sit by the water.

“You knew him. He dated your sister,” Greenberg said. “He stopped fighting when you talked to him and was never aggressive with you.”

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The trial continues today.

If convicted of first-degree attempted murder, Ke faces life in prison without parole.

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