Asuncion booked on suspicion of attempted murder
A 38-year-old Pahoa man who was shot at by police Monday after he allegedly led them on a chase in a stolen sport-utility vehicle has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Riley Jason Asuncion was booked Monday evening on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder, unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle and auto theft. He had not been charged with any of those offenses as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Asuncion was, however, charged with violating probation.
According to police, Hilo patrol officers responded shortly before 11:30 a.m. Monday to a domestic incident report in a pink SUV in Panaewa.
When the reportedly stolen SUV was spotted, the driver fled and officers pursued it up Stainback Highway on Hilo’s southern outskirts.
Police say the driver turned the vehicle around on a side road and then drove recklessly toward two officers. In response, three shots were reportedly fired at the SUV, which continued down Stainback. The vehicle stopped a short distance later and the driver allegedly fled into the bushes.
Police found the suspect, identified as Asuncion, and arrested him. He was taken to Hilo Medical Center and treated for what police described in a written statement as a bruise to his torso sustained when the officers fired at him for trying to run them down while they were on foot. All three shots missed Asuncion, but he was apparently struck by debris.
A police spokeswoman said Asuncion was released from the hospital Monday night and is in custody at the Hilo Police cellblock while detectives continue to investigate the incident.
Police say Asuncion was alone in the SUV during the chase, and the victim of what was initially reported as a domestic incident, a 30-year-old woman, was later found in Hilo. The police spokeswoman said the woman, described as an acquaintance of Asuncion’s, is the victim of the alleged assault, unauthorized entry and auto theft.
Police say she managed to escape from the SUV before the police pursuit began.
According to police, there is also a criminal investigation into the officer-involved shooting by the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section, as well as an administrative investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, the department’s internal affairs unit.
The two officers involved have been assigned to desk duty during the investigation. One has been with the Hawaii Police Department for six years and the other for about a year. Police have not identified the officers.
If Asuncion is charged with attempted first-degree murder, he faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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