Family of Man Shot by Police Files Lawsuit Alleging Use of Unlawful Deadly Force


Kaunakakai, Maui - The family of Nathaniel Naki, a 39-year-old Kaunakakai man who was fatally shot by police in April, has filed a lawsuit against Maui County and the involved officers. The suit, lodged in U.S. District Court in Hawaii, contends that the officers deployed "unlawful deadly force" at "point-blank range."

The lawsuit, comprising seven counts, alleges malicious, willful, and wanton conduct by the police, negligent infliction of emotional distress, pain and suffering to Naki, wrongful death, and intentional infliction of emotional distress to Naki’s family.

According to the suit, Nathaniel Naki was a Molokai native, well-known to long-time residents and even to the officers involved. It further asserts that the defendants were aware of Naki's vulnerable mental state but failed to take adequate precautions.

Prior to Naki's tragic demise, his mother had sought a temporary restraining order, stating that her son "isn’t in the right state of mind." His father also filed for a separate order to protect Naki’s dogs, emphasizing the need for intervention in enforcing Naki's medication and seeking hospitalization.

A spokesperson for Maui County could not be reached for comment, while the Maui Police Department declined to comment due to the ongoing litigation. The officers involved are presently on full duty status.

During a press conference on May 3, police stated that they had repeatedly instructed Naki to drop his machete before resorting to lethal force, as an earlier Taser deployment had failed to subdue him.

The lawsuit contends that the body camera footage demonstrates the machete was not wielded in a threatening manner. It alleges that officers brandished their firearms and demanded Naki to drop the weapon, using explicit language and threatening to shoot him.

The suit asserts that, without further provocation, the officers discharged their weapons at point-blank range. It further claims that Naki's body was left unattended on the road for hours without medical care.

The family alleges a failure in adequately training the officers and a deficiency in policies and procedures for the proper protection of citizens.

The lawsuit was filed by Julieann Naki, Nathaniel Naki’s mother and special administrator of his estate, along with Raymond K. Naki Sr., Nathaniel Naki’s father, and his siblings.

Attorney William Harrison, based in Honolulu, is representing the family. The lawsuit does not include the names of the officers, as the family asserts that requests for this information from the Maui Police Department and the county have been unfulfilled, accusing them of attempting to cover up their involvement in Naki's demise.