Maui police release 16 minutes of body camera footage from day of Lahaina wildfire

FILE - A general view shows the aftermath of a devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 22, 2023. Federal authorities have started removing hazardous materials from the Maui wildfires and laying the groundwork to dispose of burnt cars, buildings and other debris. The hazardous materials, including oil, solvent and batteries, are being shipped to the West Coast while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works with local officials to develop a plan to dispose of an estimated 400,000 to 700,000 tons of debris on the island. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

HONOLULU (AP) — Maui police held a news conference on Monday to show 16 minutes of body camera footage taken the day a wildfire tore through Lahaina town in August, including video of officers rescuing 15 people from a coffee shop and taking a severely burned man to a hospital.

Chief John Pelletier said his department faced a deadline to release 20 hours of body camera footage in response to an open records request and wanted to provide some context for what people would see before the video came out.


Earlier this month, Maui County provided the AP with 911 call recordings in response to an open records request.

The 16 minutes of video released at the news conference in Wailuku showed officers evacuating a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shop at a supermarket on Front Street, which later burned. Fifteen people had taken refuge inside the coffee shop. Officers ushered them out as smoke swirled in the sky around them, loaded the group into police SUVs and took them to the Lahaina Civic Center.

In another clip, an officer finds a badly burned man at a shopping center and put him in the back seat of his patrol car. “I’ll just take you straight to the hospital. That sound good?” the officer can be heard asking the man, who responds: “Yeah.”

One video shows an officer tying a tow strap to a metal gate blocking a dirt road escape route while residents use a saw to cut the gate open so a line of cars can get past. Multiple shots show officers going door-to-door telling residents to evacuate.

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