HONOLULU – Racial slurs preceded a deadly encounter at a Waikiki McDonald's, leaving a U.S. Department of State agent charged with murdering a Hawaii man, the agent's attorney claims in papers filed seeking to move the case to federal court.
Christopher Deedy, a special agent for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, was in Honolulu for November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit when the shooting occurred. In papers his defense attorney filed Tuesday in federal court in Honolulu, he argues that moving the case will ensure a fair trial. The Honolulu prosecuting attorney's office will oppose the move, spokesman Dave Koga said.
In addition to Deedy being an employee of the U.S. government, federal court would be in a better position to move the case to another federal district if he can't get a fair and impartial jury in Honolulu, the filing argues.
The transfer request was first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The papers include details from defense attorney Brook Hart claiming Deedy intervened when he sensed an altercation escalating between shooting victim, Kollin Elderts, and a customer, Michel Perrine. "While at the cashier counter, Elderts began to verbally harass Perrine using racial slurs," Hart's filing states. "Perrine asked Elderts to leave him alone, not to single him out, and stated words to the effect that he was a 'local.'"
According to a transcript of the November grand jury proceedings, Honolulu Detective Theodore Coons testified Eldert's friend Shane Medeiros told him about the exchange that Perrine was "a little put off by his comment and then he said something to the effect that, you know, I'm local too, I live here too. And then Kollin told him, oh, it's — it's okay then."
Hart's characterization of the incident says Deedy was trying to prevent a physical attack. Elderts called the agent a "haole," the Hawaiian term for white, in a derogatory way, Hart said: "Elderts threatened Special Agent Deedy by saying, 'Eh, __ haole, you like beef?' or words to that effect."
At one point, Elderts tried to grab Deedy's gun, according to Hart, and the two men got physical. Deedy drew his gun and told Elderts to freeze, but he continued to advance. "Special Agent Deedy was compelled to discharge his gun, resulting in the death of Elderts," the court papers claim.
"You don't shoot somebody because they called you a name, if they did," said Michael Green, the attorney representing Elderts' family in a civil lawsuit. "So when you're a federal agent and you get drunk, then you can shoot somebody for that?"
The judge presiding over the case in state court has sealed Hart's description, along with surveillance footage, arguing they could jeopardize a fair trial. Several Hawaii media outlets have been pushing for the documents and video to be made public. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on the media's request for the judge to reconsider the sealing.