- Associated Press - Thursday, April 26, 2018

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A Maui police officer has filed a lawsuit against the department claiming it has no psychologists to help police with mental health issues and has a pattern of retaliation, forcing officers to keep their problems secret.

Kelly Pauole, a 21-year veteran of the department, said his mental health declined after he fatally shot a man in 2006, Hawaii News Now reported Wednesday.

Officers had been responding to a home in Lahaina after a woman called 911 saying her father was threatening to kill her mom with a machete.

Officers claim Romero Butihi, 54, also had a nail gun, a spear gun and what appeared to be a rifle. They said police warned him multiple times to drop his weapons but he refused.

“I took the first shot, was point blank range,” Pauole said. “And then he staggered but he kept going, he kept dragging himself through the door, and so I had to shoot him again.”

Pauole, a Gulf War veteran, said the fatality could have been prevented if the officers on scene had stun guns.

“He should have been tased and not killed,” he said.

Pauole said he was put on administrative leave for a few months before a doctor cleared him to go back to duty, but he said he wasn’t ready.

“He said, ‘What’s your greatest fear?’ I said, ‘My greatest fear is going back to work and having to kill somebody else,’” he said. “When I went back on the road, I kind of was scared of getting shot.”

Pauole said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the shooting and asked to be put on light duty, but was instead demoted and stripped of his gun and badge.

The Maui Police Department released a response to the suit, saying it “continuously hires and supports all veterans.”


Information from: KGMB-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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