Family Sues County Over Fatal Shooting in April
By The Molokai Dispatch Staff
Members of Naki ‘ohana have sued the County of Maui and police officers involved in the April 30 shooting of 39-year-old Nathaniel Naki. In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court last week, his family claims officers on the scene used “unlawful deadly force when they discharged their weapons at Nathaniel without provocation.”
The suit is based on seven counts that include malicious, willful and wanton conduct by police, emotional distress and suffering to Naki prior to his death, intentional infliction of emotional distress to his family, and wrongful death.
On April 30, police officers responded to a temporary restraining order violation in Waialua on Molokai’s east end. Naki suffered from mental illness and the officers “knew Nathaniel was a vulnerable individual due to his present mental state, yet failed to take precautions to protect him,” according to the suit.
Police body cam footage showed Naki holding a machete under his arm, while two officers yell expletives and tell Naki repeatedly to put down the machete. The footage publicly released by police cuts off before shots were fired.
At a May 3 news conference, Assistant Chief of Uniformed Services Keola Tom said that “Mr. Naki eventually advances toward one of the officers and gets within two arms’ length before both officers almost simultaneously discharged their weapons.”
However, the lawsuit alleges that “the police body camera footage provides proof that the machete was not being wielded in a threatening manner.”
The lawsuit notes the identities of the police officers involved are unknown to the family, despite efforts to obtain this information. It further claims that when the family sought information from the county and police department regarding Naki’s death, that information was hidden from them, implying a “fraudulent attempt to cover up the defendants’ complicity.”
The officers involved are currently on full duty status, according to police.
The lawsuit was filed by Honolulu-based attorney William Harrison on behalf of Naki’s mother, father and siblings.