Maui police provide update on fatal shooting on Molokaʻi
May 3, 2023, 3:00 PM HST
* Updated May 4, 8:35 AM
*WARNING/GRAPHIC CONTENT: This post contains graphic content and images.
The Maui Police Department held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to update the public on the progress of an officer involved shooting that took place on Sunday, April 30, 2023. Police have since identified the deceased individual as Nathaniel Naki, 40, of Kaunakakai.
Police say a family member of Naki called for police assistance at approximately 7:17 a.m. on Sunday, April 30.
“The caller reported Mr. Naki was on private property, acting disorderly,” said Maui Police Department Assistant Chief of Uniformed Services, Keola Tom, during an afternoon press briefing. “There was also a confirmed TRO which prohibited Mr. Naki from being on that same property.”
When officers arrived on scene at approximately 7:41 a.m., they made contact with the caller who indicated that Naki had left and was nearby.
“Officers located Mr. Naki, and as one of the officers was getting out of his car, Mr. Naki immediately advance[d] toward the officer while carrying a two foot machete. One officer discharges his taser at Mr. Naki, but there is no effect. Both officers instructed Mr. Naki over 70 times to drop the machete and approximately 29 times to move back,” said AC Tom. “They can be heard telling Mr. Naki that they don’t want to harm him.”
According to police, Naki eventually advanced toward the officers and got within approximately two arms length before both officers “almost simultaneously” discharged their weapons.
Had the incident not been fatal, police say Naki would have subsequently been charged with: Violation Order for Protection; Harassment; Disorderly Conduct; and first degree Attempted Murder.
Maui police showed a body camera video of the encounter taken from one of the officers involved which shows the period from the time he arrived on scene to right before shots were fired. Police issued a disclaimer that the footage contains profanity. Although police did not present it during the press briefing, department officials say they have body camera footage confirming the involved officers called for medics as well as the involved officers utilizing medical kits to render aid to Naki. The department also has footage confirming off-duty a firefighter assisting with medical efforts after identifying himself to officers on scene.
Maui Police Chief John Pelletier also spoke at the press briefing. He said, “MPD holds the value and sanctity of human life at the highest level.” He explained that one of the officers on scene was Critical Incident Trained. “The other officer had attempted to get that individual critical services on prior occasions. Life saving measures were administered. We understand that we have a family who is grieving the loss of a loved one. There are no winners in critical incidents and we all pay a price,” said Chief Pelliter.
“Our officers did not wake up that morning with the intent to harm anyone. Those officers by choice, are members of the Molokaʻi community. Their lives are forever affected as well… Being an officer is not easy. You make split-second decisions on dynamic situations. Upholding the law is no longer the singular function of the job. With increasing frequency, we see officers deal with individuals who are suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse. The safety of the community is our top priority and this incident illustrates all too well the dangers and realities that members of law enforcement face every single day.”
*This post was updated as details from today’s press conference became available.
Naki suffered fatal wounds during a confrontation with police reported at around 7:41 a.m. near Mile 18.5 of the Kamehameha V Highway in Wailua, Molokaʻi. Police say they were responding to a report of a Temporary Restraining Order violation.
A preliminary police investigation reveals that, upon arrival, two officers encountered a Naki, who they say was wielding a weapon. Police say the man advanced toward the officers, at which time one officer deployed his taser, which proved ineffective before both officers discharged their weapons.
Officers performed life-saving measures until medic personnel arrived on the scene, according to department reports.
The man was transported to the Molokaʻi General Hospital for further treatment, where he later succumbed to his injuries and died.
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave as standard procedure.