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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 23, 2003

Hostage in Kane'ohe shootout sues city

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A man who was kidnapped and wounded in a deadly shootout with police in Kane'ohe last year has filed a lawsuit against the city and the estate of the man who held him hostage before he was shot and killed by police.

Christopher Edenfield, 23, filed the lawsuit in Circuit Court yesterday and named the city and the estate of Arnold Willets as defendants. Willets was killed after he fired at officers on Oct. 4, 2002.

Police fired more than 130 shots at Willets' pickup truck as it became lodged on a concrete wall at Kane'ohe District Park. Edenfield and his 22-month-old son were passengers in the truck during the shootout.

Edenfield was wounded in the neck, thigh and left hand, while his son, Kyle Keolanui-Edenfield, suffered cuts and bruises. The bullets in Edenfield's neck and thigh remain, according to the lawsuit.

Edenfield, who is seeking an undetermined amount in damages, is being represented by attorney David Gierlach.

City Corporation Counsel David Arakawa said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

Edenfield and his son were asleep in their Kahalu'u home on Oct. 4, when Willets allegedly entered the home and forced the two into his truck. Willets told Edenfield that he needed someone to be with him because police were after him, the lawsuit stated.

Police had been following Willets after he rammed a police car at a Windward park. Police said Willets was driving a stolen vehicle.

The lawsuit alleges that police undercover officers knew Willets had two hostages with him, but failed to relay that message to patrol officers. After Willets fired his gun at police, officers unleashed a barrage of bullets at his truck.

The police department has policies and procedures in place when hostages' lives are at risk, but the lawsuit said none of these procedures was followed. The lawsuit also accused Willets and police of engaging in "repeated batteries of plaintiffs" and inflicting severe emotional distress.

Edenfield's lawsuit was filed one day after he was sentenced to five years probation after pleading no contest to two counts of third-degree sexual assault, according to the city prosecutor's office. Edenfield was indicted on the charges in September 2002 and pleaded no contest on Feb. 28.