Hawaii’s law on using deadly force

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An Ewa resident was arrested on Friday night for second-degree murder after police say he shot a man who had a knife outside his home.

The recent shooting is once again raising questions about what homeowners’ rights are when it comes to using deadly force.

Police said a 54-year-old resident opened his front door and shot a 37-year-old man who had the knife.

He died at the scene.

The homeowner was released pending investigation and has not yet been charged.

Defense attorney Megan Kau said the law states that a person can use deadly force to defend him or herself from deadly force if they believe it’s reasonably necessary.

“In other words, you can’t bring a knife to a fistfight, you can’t bring a gun to a knife fight, you have to use the same force the person is using against you in order for you to be justified,” she said.

She said even if a person is outside your home doing something illegal, you cannot use deadly force against them.

“You have to believe it’s reasonably necessary and it’s immediate,” she explained. “If there’s no immediacy then you cannot use deadly force against someone even if they’re screaming and using a knife waving it at you—if it’s not reasonably necessary and immediate to protect yourself from that deadly force you cannot use deadly force,” she said.

She said the homeowner cannot go outside their home and use deadly force against the person.

Instead, the homeowner should call the police immediately.

A similar incident happened in April 2018.

Honolulu police said Gregory Farr shot and killed another man who tried to open his front door.

John Hasselbrink, 41, a chief petty officer with the Navy, was killed.

Police said Hasselbrink thought the home was his own.

Farr was recently re-indicted and is being charged for manslaughter.

“You are able to use deadly force and you are justified in using deadly force in order to protect yourself from death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, rape. So if you’re at home and someone is about to attack you, or rape you, or kidnap you, you are able to use deadly force against that person,” she explains.

She said if someone enters a home and doesn’t have a deadly weapon, but the homeowner shoots the person then it becomes difficult “for you to prove the other person was going to use deadly force because that person was found with no weapon,” she explained.

However, she said if someone uses enough force to break down a door to enter someone’s home, “it’s reasonable to believe he/she is going to use some kind of force against you,” she said.

“First of all it will be up to the jury to decide if the person actually entered the home, next it will be up to the jury to decide if he was using deadly force against the homeowner, those are factual things the jury has to decide,” she said.

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