A relatively unknown candidate for the Mayor of Maui County has garnered statewide attention after he ran away from a police officer in Wailuku Wednesday and was shot by a Taser.
Beau Hawkes, 34, of Makawao, said he plans on filing a lawsuit for what he claims was an unprovoked attack.
"Tasers are a violation of our human rights. Maui county (and) the Maui Police Department will be the first police department to ban the use of Tasers," said Hawkes. "The ban on the Tasers will be part of a lawsuit."
Honolulu attorney Eric Seitz doesn't believe Hawkes can get Tasers banned in Maui County through a lawsuit, but he says the married father of two does have a case.
"My belief is that without question, this officer ought to be relieved of his duties, put on desk assignment and probably subjected to a serious disciplinary action," said Seitz.
Seitz represented Jayzel Mattos in a groundbreaking Taser case involving Maui police officers in 2006. He says a ruling in the case by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals set a clear precedent when officers can use their Tasers. The appeals court called it "intermediate level of force."
"That means you can only use it in circumstances where the police officer is threatened with some degree of harm, or members of the public are threatened with some degree of harm," said Seitz. "If you're dealing with somebody who merely committed traffic offenses and is not threatening the officer, as far as I'm concerned there's no question, this is an improper and inappropriate use of the Taser."
Maui County Police did not respond to a KITV4 request Friday seeking comment about the incident with Hawkes. However, Lt. Ricky Uedoi, commander of the Maui County Police Department's Traffic Section, told Maui News Hawkes "didn't cooperate with the officer when he was told he was under arrest."
Hawkes said the unidentified officer pulled him over on Haleakala Highway at about 8 a.m. after he was spotted without license plates and using a cell phone while driving. But as the officer spoke to Hawkes, he drove off toward Wailuku, saying he had to go the courthouse.
About an hour later the same officer spotted the barefoot Hawkes on Wells Street after he exited the county building. Hawkes had gone to the building to attend a meeting for a proposed moratorium on GMO crops, but refused the officer's orders to stop.
"He started commanding me to stop (and) I was under arrest," said Hawkes. "He was quite aggressive."
That's when Hawkes said he acted on his right of fight or flight. He took off running down Wells Street, which resulted in the police officer utilizing his Taser. The confrontation was captured on video by Aubrey May, who then shared it with MauiWatch.
In the video Hawkes is heard saying, "Come on cop! You can't do this dude!" The officer responds by saying, "You're going to get Tased!"
As a candidate for mayor, Hawkes claims he's not required to display a license plate or follow other county laws because of his God-given rights under the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
"So, I exercise this right that God has given me as I conduct myself on a daily basis here on Maui," he said.
Seitz said Hawkes' case against Maui County and the police department is bolstered by the fact that he wasn't armed with a weapon, did not appear to threaten the officer and was shot in the back with the Taser. In addition, backup was on the way as evidenced by the police sirens in the video.
"They could've chased him down in their vehicles," said Seitz. "Maybe somebody more physically fit than the officer who shot the Taser could've easily caught him and constrained him physically."
Hawkes claims officers did not allow him to clean wounds he received after being hit with the Taser, and was only given four sheets of paper towel.