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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 18, 2002

No charges likely in faked shooting

Advertiser Staff

WAILUKU, Maui — Maui Police Chief Tom Phillips said criminal charges are not expected to be filed against a police officer whose self-inflicted gunshot wound led to an islandwide manhunt for a nonexistent suspect.

Ten-year police veteran Donald B. Nakooka, 32, left the department April 15. Phillips would not comment on whether Nakooka was fired, saying there are pending personnel issues in the case.

Nakooka reported Dec. 4 that he was shot in the abdomen by the driver of a vehicle he had pulled over on Honoapi'ilani Highway near the Kapalua Resort. The officer was wearing a protective vest and was not seriously injured.

A week later, Phillips announced that an investigation had determined that Nakooka staged the shooting as a result of personal problems. Police estimated the cost of the investigation, including overtime, at close to $25,000.

County prosecutor Richard Bissen is off-island and unavailable to confirm the case had been dropped.

Phillips said that although the false report was disturbing and an embarrassment to the department, "we're glad the truth came out. As an agency, that is what was important to us," he said. "We just hope Donald gets the help he needs."

In March, Nakooka published a letter in a local newspaper apologizing for the shooting, which he called "a very big mistake.''