A 32-year-old Hilo man accused of the nonfatal shooting of two police officers a little more than a year ago took the witness stand Friday and admitted to shooting himself as police converged on his sister’s Hilo home, where he was allegedly hiding.
Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ruled two declarations that “I shot myself” allegedly made by Keaka Martin to arresting officers were done so voluntarily and might be used as evidence in his jury trial, scheduled to start Feb. 3.
Martin is charged with two counts each of first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault for the Jan. 2, 2013, shootings of officers Garrett Hatada and Joshua Gouveia in the parking lot of Pono Place, at the site of the former Green Onion cocktail lounge on Kilauea Avenue in Hilo.
Martin is also charged with reckless endangering and five firearms charges.
Hatada and Gouveia were hospitalized with leg wounds but since returned to duty.
Martin allegedly shot himself with a 9 mm handgun the following day as a police manhunt closed in on him. He was also hospitalized but recovered and is in custody without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Steve Strauss, Martin’s court-appointed attorney, argued the statements shouldn’t be allowed because they were made in the course of custodial interrogation by police and Martin hadn’t been informed of his right to remain silent. Strauss was also attempting to exclude any evidence of Martin’s alleged suicide attempt from the attempted murder trial.
The state’s lone witness at the hearing, Kona Patrol Sgt. Aaron Carvalho, testified he was assigned to the Special Response Team at that time — the department’s SWAT unit — and arrived at the East Palai Street home in the unit’s Bearcat armored vehicle about 3:17 p.m. Carvalho said he was tabbed to be the first officer to enter the home to arrest Martin.
He said police announced their presence via the armored vehicle’s public address system and a single gunshot was heard inside the home at 3:19 p.m.
Carvalho said a man who identified himself as “Bubba” came outside and the front door was left partially open, so he used a shotgun loaded with beanbags to open the door further.
“After firing three beanbag rounds, I then … got the robot ready for deployment,” he said. “The robot is a remote-control video surveillance type of robot. So, I exited the Bearcat, went toward the front door and deployed the robot by throwing it through the front door.”
Carvalho said the robot’s video feed showed Martin lying on his back with a handgun on the floor about a foot or two away from his left hand.
“I also observed that this male party was moving. His legs appeared to be moving or he appeared to be having muscle spasms,” he said.
According to Carvalho, he and three other officers, sergeants Paul Kim, Calvin Delaries and James Gusman — the latter since was promoted to lieutenant — entered the home with firearms drawn.
Carvalho testified he ordered Martin, who “appeared to be bleeding … from the stomach and abdomen area” to not move and to show his hands. He said after raising his hands slightly, Martin said, “I shot myself.”
“After he made his statement, what, if anything, did you say?” asked deputy prosecutor Darien Nagata.
“I told him to roll over and he stated again, ‘I shot myself,’” Carvalho replied.
Carvalho said he and two other officers rolled Martin over and handcuffed him. He testified neither he nor the other officers asked Martin any questions. He said Martin “was moaning” and “sounded like he was in pain.”
Strauss put his client on the stand, and Martin testified he remembers shooting himself in the chest and falling down, but doesn’t recall the arrest or any statements he allegedly made to police.
“I just remember waking up in the hospital. I shot myself and I guess I just blacked out,” he said.
“After shooting yourself, what’s the next thing you remember?” Nagata inquired during cross-examination.
“I couldn’t breathe. I was choking on my blood. That’s about it,” Martin answered.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.