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Attempted murder trial underway: Cop recounts 2019 incident

  • Officer Randall Hancock testifies at the attempted murder trial of Shannon Ke Friday in Circuit Court. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Shannon Ke appears on the first day of trial for attempted murder of a police officer Friday in Circuit Court. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Trial began Friday 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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In opening statements, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray laid out evidence he planned to present to jurors in the case stemming from the March 26, 2019, incident that ended the career of Officer Randall Hancock.

Hancock responded to Huggo’s for a disorderly conduct call with another officer, Kaneala Abaya. There, the officers were told by restaurant employees that Ke acted in a disorderly manner, having lit a cigarette from one of the tiki torches outside the patio of the establishment and blowing smoke toward diners.

The prosecutor said when an employee told Ke he could not smoke, the man responded “f—you haoles, go back to the mainland.”

An employee will also testify observing Ke drinking from a large bottle of vodka while sitting on the rocks outside the restaurant. That is when the manager called police to have him removed.

That‘s when things took a turn for the worse with Ke allegedly becoming hostile after Hancock approached Ke to ask him to move along. Murray said the victim will testify Ke became hostile and told Hancock “you are not DLNR. Why are you here?” before going after a glass bottle.

“That is when Officer Hancock told him he was under arrest,” Murray said continuing to tell jurors how Ke turned and attempted to hit Hancock with the bottle, but was unsuccessful. Ke then told the officer “you f—ed up now,” and lunged at his legs, sending them both tumbling into the ocean, where Hancock’s body and head hit the rocks.

Ke’s defense attorney James Greenberg opened his case stating Ke was sitting on an embankment practicing his Native Hawaiian rights when Hancock came up behind him and said he was going to arrest him and attempted to use his Taser on him.

“Mr. Ke was in fear of his life and pulls back and they both fall into the water, ” Greenberg said. “Mr. Ke was defending himself. He thought he was going to die.”

Greenberg ascertained Hancock only suffered a fat lip and bruised leg. Ke, he said, did not cause those injuries.

“Pay attention to the evidence,” Greenberg told the jury. “You will find him not guilty.”

Hancock took the stand third following two Huggo’s employees who confirmed details put forth in Murray’s opening statements. One stated she witnessed Ke talking to himself, drinking from a “Costco-size“ bottle of vodka and trying to drown Hancock.

“He told me to go away and called me a f—ing haole. I told him I was hapa and his family was Hawaiian, Chinese and white. He continued to say he had he had the right to be there,” Hancock told the court. “I told him he needed to calm down otherwise I would have to arrest him. He picked up a 1.5-liter glass bottle of Sky vodka and swung it at me. I knocked away the bottle and he pushed me around the waist which caused me to stumble back. He lunged at me and wrapped his arms around my thigh. He said ‘you f—ed up now.’ I reached for my Taser and was removing it from my holster when he launched himself backwards and we both went into the ocean.”

Hancock then detailed the events of the assault in the water and Ke’s attempt to drown him.

“I couldn’t breathe. I was thinking if I didn’t break free I would die,” he testified.

Hancock also testified he has not worked since the incident, having been placed on disability because of nerve problems in his arms and hands, consciousness and memory issues, seizures and problems with mobility. He said he never faced any of the conditions prior to the March 26, 2019, incident.

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The trial continues Tuesday, when Greenberg will cross examine Hancock.

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

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