A jury was set for deliberation after closing arguments were made Friday in the trial against a Kailua-Kona man accused of attempted murder of a police officer in 2019.
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 law enforcement officer Randall Hancock and resisting arrest in connection with the 2019 incident on the shoreline fronting Huggo’s Restaurant.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray began his closing argument by playing a video taken by a patron at the restaurant depicting the end of the assault on Hancock.
“What you see is the conclusion. He (the witness) was so shocked and concerned he felt compelled to video the incident,” Murray said.
He recounted for jurors what witnesses testified they saw of the entire attack.
“Witnesses saw the defendant punching Officer Hancock three to four times and forcing his head under the water. Witnesses saw aggressive acts and heard the defendant screaming “f—- you haoles, go back to the mainland.”
“You are empowered to weigh the evidence and credibility of the witnesses,” Murray told the jury. “You get to make the decision.”
He continued saying Hancock was engaging in his duty as a police officer and when he tried to arrest Ke, witnesses all saw the defendant lunge at the officer, causing them to tumble into the water where Ke tried to drown him.
“He wanted to kill him because Officer Hancock was doing his job. Why would you hold someone’s head under water if not to kill or drown them?” Murray pondered. “Everything you heard shows it was intentional. This wasn’t an accident. Was deadly force used? Absolutely.”
Murray went on to detail injuries Hancock suffered, who is still affected by loss of consciousness, seizures, pain and tingling in his extremities.
“He can’t drive. He can’t swim. He cannot go back to work. And it is all tied to what the defendant did to him. There is no reasonable justification for what he did to Officer Hancock,” he said.
Murray stressed the case was not about cultural practices, it was about hostility and anger and about Ke trying to drown Hancock in front of a full restaurant.
Deputy Public Defender James Greenberg painted a different picture for the jury in his closing argument.
He said Ke was in the area of Huggo’s, may have been drinking and swore at restaurant patrons, but then he went to the ocean to practice his cultural rights, not bothering anyone.
“He was cleansing his soul. It is his land. It is where he goes for comfort,” Greenberg told the jury.
He said the manager called the police because she wanted him to go away.
“Why did he have to go away? What did he do wrong? He was having a bad day, yes, but he was not disorderly,” he said.
He said when the police arrived, the 6-foot, 2 inch, 250-pound “haole from the mainland” went to confront him.
“Why did he go out alone? Why didn’t the Hawaiian officer go? It was bad policing,” Greenberg continued.
He told the jury Ke did not have a weapon when Hancock approached him in full “combat attire” and should have dropped his duty belt.
“Hancock goes to put him in cuffs when all he is doing is praying to the ocean,” he said. You have to understand that police stick together. “It is a brotherhood. Shannon was defending himself and the law allows it.”
He reiterated that Ke was not being disorderly when the police arrived and the only reason the police were called was because the restaurant patrons didn’t want to look at a poor local guy.
“These are trumped up charges,” Greenberg continued, adding multiple charges were added during the investigation and indictment of his client.
“It’s railroading the local kid,” he said.
He said he was sorry about Hancock’s injuries, but they were caused by bad policing, not his client.
“I don’t know what caused his injuries,” Greenberg said. “It’s probably good Hancock isn’t a police officer anymore because he wasn’t a good police officer. He’s probably looking for full disability so he can go back to the mainland and get paid for it.”
The jury will begin deliberating Tuesday morning.
If convicted of first-degree attempted murder, Ke faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.