A court document filed by the Hawaii Police Department outlines its version of the circumstances that led to two officers discharging their weapons in a busy supermarket parking lot in Hilo the day before Thanksgiving.
According to the narrative, at about 11:55 a.m. on Nov. 27, off-duty Hilo Patrol Officer Bryson Pilor was driving through the parking lot of KTA Super Stores on East Puainako Street when he spotted a teal Toyota Tacoma pickup with dark tinted windows, silver front rims and back rims.
Thinking the vehicle matched the description of a stolen pickup sought by Special Enforcement Unit officers, Pilor checked the rear license plate number, which came back as not assigned.
He then called Officer Victor McLellan of SEU, who arrived at the parking lot at about noon with SEU Detective Kelly Moniz, both in civilian clothes.
McLellan saw the pickup drive past him in the opposite direction, then noticed the Tacoma parked in the middle lane of the parking lot next to another dark blue Toyota pickup. McLellan got out of his vehicle and approached the trucks.
According to the document, McLellan saw the driver of the teal Tacoma was Tearon Pacheco-Fernandez and made eye contact with her.
Hilo Patrol Officer Shane Hanley had arrived at that point, the document states, approached the Tacoma from the passenger side and ordered the truck’s occupants to exit the vehicle, but nobody came out of the truck.
Pacheco-Fernandez allegedly accelerated the Tacoma toward McLellan “in an attempt to strike him and causing him to fear for his safety.”
McLellan said, according to the affidavit, he discharged three rounds from his service weapon into the Tacoma’s driver side door “because he feared for his safety and had a limited avenue of escape from being struck … .”
The truck steered hard to the right and hit a white Ford F-250 pickup about 10 feet away from McLellan, the document states. The truck “came to a screeching (halt) as it entered the adjacent Jack in the Box parking lot.” McLellan walked toward the Tacoma, thinking Pacheco-Fernandez might be injured, but the Tacoma “reversed at a high rate of speed” toward McLellan and sideswiped a Toyota Camry sedan driven by a 71-year-old man.
The document states Hanley saw the Tacoma accelerate toward McLellan, and Hanley had “to move back to the rear passenger’s side of the Tacoma to avoid being struck … as it moved forward.”
Hanley heard three gunshots and saw the Tacoma hit the white F-250. Hanley reportedly than ran toward the Ford pickup when the Tacoma accelerated toward the Camry, which was stopped at the stop sign adjacent to the Jack in the Box.
Hanley feared for the safety of the Camry’s driver, according to the document, and fired six shots from his service weapon “to attempt to stop the threat posed by the operator of the Tacoma.”
After striking the Camry, the truck sped out of the parking lot toward Kilauea Avenue and escaped toward Puna, police said.
The document also gave two eyewitness accounts, including that of the Camry’s driver, who said he heard three shots then ducked down behind his dash. The man saw the Tacoma but not the driver.
A 58-year-old woman driving a black Kia multi-purpose vehicle said she heard an officer yell, “Stop!”
The woman told police she saw a man from a silver SUV fire three shots, then saw the truck strike the Camry before fleeing toward Kilauea Avenue. The woman also told police the truck had dark tint, and she couldn’t see the driver or anyone else inside the vehicle.
Later that afternoon, police viewed video surveillance from Jack in the Box, according to the document. Narrative of the video review details the Tacoma driving toward McLellan then suddenly turning right, narrowly missing the Kia and hitting the Ford pickup, sideswiping the Camry and then fleeing the scene.
The video review section of the document makes no mention of the officers discharging their weapons.
McLellan and Hanley are on paid administrative leave while the Office of Professional Standards, the department’s internal affairs unit, conducts an investigation into the shooting.
Pacheco-Fernandez, who is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal property damage, plus terroristic threatening, resisting an order to stop, leaving the scene of the accident and driving without a license, made her initial court appearance Thursday.
Hilo District Judge Cynthia Tai denied a defense request to reduce Pacheco-Fernandez’s $32,010 bail and ordered her to appear at 2 p.m. Monday for a preliminary hearing.
Pacheco-Fernandez, who also has an active burglary and auto theft case with a $50,000 bail amount, remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald