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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 15, 2010

No drug rehab for assault suspect

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 23-year-old man shot by police while trying to ram his way out of the drive-through lane of a Waikele fast-food restaurant in a stolen car will not be going to a drug rehabilitation center while awaiting trial.

Circuit Judge Randal Lee on Tuesday rejected a bid by Jeremiah Lopez to be placed on supervised release to undergo substance abuse therapy at the Sand Island Treatment Center.

Lopez is charged with ramming a stolen Dodge Durango into two police vehicles as officers tried to arrest him Nov. 4. Police had blocked the SUV in the drive-through lane of the KFC restaurant after receiving a call that the stolen vehicle was in the area.

Two officers were injured, including one who was knocked down by the SUV. Police opened fire at the vehicle, hitting Lopez three times and critically injuring him.

He was charged with first-degree assault, two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer, auto theft, terroristic threatening, criminal property damage, and two drug charges.

His bail was set at $200,000.

At a court hearing Tuesday, deputy public defender Craig Nagamine told Lee that Lopez "just wants to make things better."

Nagamine said Lopez is a lifelong resident of Hawai'i who is seeking treatment to address the issues "that may have played a role in the case."

But deputy prosecutor Darrel Wong described Lopez as a danger to the community.

A week before the KFC incident, police were involved in chasing a stolen car headed the wrong way on Farrington Highway, one they believe was being driven by Lopez, Wong said.

Police had to call off the chase because they felt it had become too dangerous.

In the KFC incident, Lopez tried to smash his way out of the drive-through lane even though the Durango was surrounded by four police vehicles.

"He does have a tendency to run and would present a flight risk if allowed to go to Sand Island," Wong said.

Lee agreed and denied the release request, saying there were not sufficient safeguards to ensure Lopez would remain at the facility while undergoing treatment.