Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023 |
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Police say three officers are on administrative leave with pay as the Hawaii Police Department investigates an incident Monday evening that left a 38-year-old Puna man dead.
According to police, Puna patrol officers responded shortly after 5 p.m. to a reported active attempted suicide at a residence on Ohiohi Street in Keaau.
The father of Christopher Alan Ferreira, the deceased man, told officers he and his son had been involved in a verbal altercation and his son had made verbal threats toward him.
Police say they attempted to contact Ferreira, but he retreated into the residence and locked the door. As officers established communication with Ferreira, he then walked out of officers’ sight, went into his bedroom and locked himself inside.
According to police, Ferreira’s father let officers into the home, and the officers gave repeated verbal commands to open the bedroom door. Ferreira refused to comply.
Officers then breached the bedroom door and saw Ferreira armed with a large kitchen knife and a collapsible police-style baton, police said.
Ferreira allegedly refused to comply with verbal commands to drop the weapons and pressed the large knife up against his neck area.
Capt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the East Hawaii Criminal Investigation Division said Ferreira “had the knife right up against his throat, but he did not manage to cut himself.”
Police say Ferreira then began to vomit and appeared to experience some type of medical-related episode. He continued to disregard verbal commands to drop the weapons, at which time an officer discharged his Taser in order to disarm the man and to allow officers to safely provide medical assistance.
“He was tased only one time,” Amon-Wilkins said. “The officers immediately moved in and removed the two weapons and removed him from the bed to start performing life-saving measures. They moved him out of the room so they would have more room to work on him, because it was a very small bedroom. … They administered two cans of Narcan.”
According to the police statement, the Narcan was administered “due to the belief that Ferreira’s behavior may be associated with drug use.”
Ferreira continued to display signs of being in distress and “lost consciousness pretty quickly,” according to Amon-Wilkins.
According to Amon-Wilkins, police “processed the room with permission of the family” and “no illegal drugs were recovered.”
Amon-Wilkins said officers administered CPR until Hawaii Fire Department paramedics arrived and took over, without success.
Ferreira was transported to Hilo Medical Center and officially pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m. An autopsy is scheduled for this morning to determine the exact cause of death.
Asked if the case is considered an in-custody death, Amon-Wilkins replied that it is “being handled as such.”
“However, he was never taken into police custody,” he continued. “He was not arrested. He was never handcuffed. When everything went down, police were attempting to contact him more to check on his welfare and potentially take him to the hospital for a (medical examination). We weren’t really investigating a criminal offense, per se, at that point. He and his father had been involved in an altercation, but we were looking to contact him more, at that point, to check on his medical condition and to get him appropriate help.
“He was not complying with the officers’ demands, and then the medical situation occurred.”
The case is currently classified as a coroner’s inquest, and Criminal Investigation Section detectives are investigating.
The Office of Professional Standards — the department’s internal affairs unit — has initiated what police described as a standard internal administrative investigation into the incident, as well. The involved officers have six years, five years, and three years of service, respectively.
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