LIHU‘E — A year to the day after Richard “Dickie” Louis was shot on his roof by police officers attempting to arrest him, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 5th Circuit Court on Feb. 15.
Louis, who had 32 prior arrests, according to police, was the lone fatality that occurred during a multi-agency Hawai‘i Fugitive Task Force sweep to serve 47 warrants and make 31 arrests on 249 charges in 2012. The $310,000 warrant was issued for Louis to appear at a sentencing scheduling hearing.
In December 2012, Louis missed closing arguments of his trial where a jury found him guilty on drugs and weapons charges stemming from a four-year-old Koke‘e koa wood cutting case. He had already missed one day of the trial for medical reasons.
The suit was filed by the Law Office of Hempey & Meyers, and the family has also retained the attorney Myles Breiner in Honolulu. The complainant is Lynell Tokuda, who is representing the estate of Richard Earnest Louis, and his family, Richard, Derrick and Kevin Louis.
The suit names Kaua‘i Police Department, Officer Chris Calio and the County of Kaua‘i as defendants. They are charging assault and battery, unlawful search and seizure, unnecessary use of deadly force, negligent training, three other counts of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.
“I have known Dickie Louis and his family for a few years and empathize with his children’s loss of both their parents to tragic deaths,” Gregory Meyers said. “Our law firm is genuinely compassionate when it comes to helping those who have suffered grave harm through the acts of government officials.”
The police report at the time said Louis, 62, of Koloa, was resisting arrest and had barricaded himself in the home. Louis appeared on the roof in an aggressive and agitated state at about 6:45 p.m., and was shot after ignoring commands to surrender and threatening to kill an officer with a metal object.
Louis died as a result of massive blood loss from gunshot wounds, according to the lawsuit. The civil action is filed for damages against the county and the State of Hawai‘i, and against Calio for excessive use of deadly force.
Chief of Police Darryl Perry said his deepest sympathy goes out to the family of Louis for their loss, and regrets that he cannot comment on the circumstances of events that led to the shooting as this case is still under investigation.
“However, I can say that our officers are highly trained in the use of deadly force as mandated by Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, and I stand firmly behind the necessary actions taken by the officer given the totality of circumstances,” Perry said.
Approximately 20 to 30 police cars and 50 to 60 law enforcement personnel, including the KPD SWAT teams, were on the scene, according to the complaint. Several officers began yelling for Louis to come out of the house.
Emily Fontanilla was inside and exited the home because of urging phone calls from KPD Officer Paris Resinto.
The complaint alleges that officers obtain permission from Fontanilla to enter the home after 45 minutes.
Armed officers pounded on the door and Louis appeared on the two-part roof of the home, the complaint said. He was wearing cutoffs and no shirt and was shot after throwing some bamboo poles onto the driveway.
Officer Calio fired four to six bullets at Louis, striking his right groin and thigh, severing his femoral artery and rendering him unconscious, states the complaint. An ambulance showed after 20 minutes after initially going to a wrong address.
After surgery at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Louis was transported to a vascular surgeon on O‘ahu, but was pronounced dead at 12:54 a.m. at Queen’s Hospital.
The complaint notes that no weapons were recovered and that garden tools alleged to have been wielded by Louis were located more than 100 feet away from where Louis was shot.
“Our investigation has revealed that KPD inappropriately and inexplicably sent a police officer on a rooftop to shoot an unarmed man, while law enforcement already had his house entirely surrounded, and while Mr. Louis posed no danger or risk of flight,” Meyers said.
At the time, Perry was on leave by the order of Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., and Assistant Chiefs of Police Roy Asher and Ali Quibilan were also on leave during the course of an internal affairs investigation.
Acting Chief of Police Michael Contrades was attending an FBI Academy in Virginia but was able to exercise authority, issuing press releases. At the time, Contrades said that it appeared the officers acted appropriately.
According to the complaint, Acting Deputy Chief of Police Mark Begley was in charge of KPD operations on the date of the incident and issued directions to SWAT commander Captain Hank Barriga.
• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com.