Law expert questions why accused police officer killer was free in the first place

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The manhunt continues for fugitive Justin Waiki, 33, accused of killing Hawaii island officer Bronson Kaliloa. 

The Hawaii Island Police Department says Waiki is facing a first degree murder charge.

His criminal history is extensive. 

In 2013, Waiki was found with drugs and a loaded firearm in his car, court records note. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail with 4 years probation. 

In 2016, he violated probation. Police issued a warrant for his arrest. 

Prosecutors say police traced Waiki to Las Vegas. He was extradited to the Big Island. 

“He is not allowed in Las Vegas. The only time you can leave the state when you’re on probation or parole is with the permission of your probation officer,” said University of Hawaii at Manoa law professor Ken Lawson. 

In 2017, prosecutors argued Waiki was a flight risk and wanted bail set at 20 thousand dollars. 

The courts had the option to keep Waiki in jail, or allow bail. Court granted bail at $7,000, which he posted. 

The 33-year-old had a court date in March of 2018, but never showed. A no-bail warrant was issued. 

That’s when officers were alerted to Waiki on the side of Highway 11 on Tuesday night, said police. 

Kaliloa and other officers intended to serve Waiki the warrant, before he shot and killed Kaliloa. 

“The question becomes, would the officer be alive, had this guy been in prison? And the obvious answer is yes,” said Lawson. 

“When you have a guy who was in prison, and the court says ‘OK, you spent 18 months in jail, we’ll give you a chance now. Report to your meetings, talk to your probation officer.’ And instead he just leaves the island? To the point where they had to capture him and force him through extradition. The question becomes… why is he out at all?”

But Lawson says the situation could also be taken in hindsight. 

“A lot of this is hindsight too, though. When we look at his case, there are probably a hundred more where this person was out on bond where they don’t do this. The question becomes, do we let 
one bad apple ruin the system?” 

Waiki is to be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone with information his whereabouts is asked to call the police at (808) 935-3311 or those who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300.

Prosecutors say harboring a fugitive is a felony offense. Those caught helping Waiki evade police could face up to 5 years in jail. 

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