Officer cleared in fatal Waikiki shooting
By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer
A police officer who shot and killed a man in Waikiki last fall after the man repeatedly rammed the officer's Cushman scooter with his car has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, the Honolulu prosecutor's office announced yesterday.
Honolulu Police Department
Bernard Crivello was shot to death in Waikiki by a police officer.
Honolulu Police Department
Bernard Crivello, 25, of Kaimuki, was shot in the head Oct. 3 in the driveway of the Ala Wai Townhouse on Tusitala Street. Police and witnesses have said that Crivello, who was driving a Jeep Cherokee, repeatedly drove the Jeep into a metal gate in front of him and into the police officer's Cushman scooter behind him in an apparent effort to flee.
Since the shooting, two other people have been killed by gunfire from Honolulu police officers. Michell Udani was shot at Ala Moana Center after he fatally shot his girlfriend Jan. 13, and Levi Esperas was shot on the H-2 freeway near Waipi'o Gentry after he fired a shotgun and wounded two police officers on April 17.
In Crivello's case, the prosecutor's office yesterday released a statement saying: "The Jeep continued to accelerate forward and back, alternately striking the iron gate and the Cushman a total of three times. The third time the Jeep struck the Cushman, it pushed it into the middle of the street.
"The Jeep then accelerated forward. When the Jeep accelerated, the officer believed the Jeep was coming at him, and he fired a single shot as he jumped out of the path of the Jeep. The single shot entered the open driver's window and struck Mr. Crivello in the head. The Jeep then rolled forward and collided with the rock wall in its path."
Carlisle acknowledged that witnesses' accounts of the incident differ substantially.
"Some felt (Crivello) was only trying to get away, while others indicated that he was trying to drive at the officers," Carlisle said. "At the very least, we believe there as a risk to the officer."
According to one eyewitness account, the officer who shot Crivello dropped his arms to his side, walked away, sat down on the sidewalk and "looked shocked" following the incident, Carlisle said.
In addition, three witnesses told investigators that they believed Crivello would have hit and hurt children playing in the street had he been allowed to drive away, given the reckless way he was operating the Jeep, Carlisle said.
Although much of the controversy in the wake of the shooting had to do with how close the officer was when the shot was fired, and the angle from which it was fired, the medical examiner and other investigators could not answer those questions "conclusively," Carlisle said.
"The only thing conclusive was that the person driving the car was in possession of crystal methamphetamine and had crystal methamphetamine in his bloodstream," Carlisle said.
That very likely accounts for Crivello's "dangerous and erratic actions," he said. "There is no doubt that he went forward and smashed the steel gate, and no doubt that he went backward and smashed the Cushman," he said.
Under state law, police officers may use deadly force while trying to arrest someone for a felony offense if the offense itself involved the use, or threatened use, of deadly force or there is substantial risk that the person to be arrested will cause death or serious injury if not immediately arrested.
Crivello had no criminal convictions at the time of his death, but had been arrested 22 times, primarily on suspicion of auto theft and forgery, according to police.
The officer who shot Crivello was attempting to detain him after learning that the Jeep Crivello was driving had been reported stolen, according to the statement by the prosecutor's office.
After Crivello pulled into the driveway, the police officer blocked his retreat with his Cushman, got out of his vehicle, asked Crivello for his registration and driver's license and told him to turn the Jeep off, according to the statement.
Crivello replied that didn't have any of the requested items and that he could not turn off the Jeep, according to the statement. It maintains that the officer repeatedly yelled, "Stop the car."
Because he was never charged with a crime, the police officer's name was never released by police or prosecutors.
Carlisle said he realizes that critics might assume that his office sided with the Honolulu Police Department and the officer involved in the shooting because the two agencies work hand in glove.
While it is common on the Mainland for police departments in adjoining counties to investigate "officer involved" shootings, Hawaii's remote location makes that alternative impractical if not impossible, Carlisle said.
Although HPD's Internal Affairs division conducted most of the investigation into the death of Crivello, Carlisle said his office conducted its own, independent investigation.