Christopher Deedy, a special agent with the U.S. State Department, was compelled to shoot Kollin Elderts inside a Waikiki McDonald's last year after fearing for his life and those around him. That’s according to a Tuesday filing in U.S. District Court by Deedy’s attorney, Brook Hart.
Hart filed the motion in the hopes of moving his client's trial from Circuit Court to federal court, where he believes Deedy has a better chance at an impartial jury.
According to Hart's petition, Deedy shot Elderts to death at about 2:30 a.m. Nov. 5 only after the Kailua man harassed another customer and then focused his aggression toward Deedy and one of the special agent's two friends, Adam Gutowski. Deedy was in Honolulu to provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but was off duty at the time of the incident.
Deedy, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Elderts, 23, inside the Kuhio Avenue McDonald's after an argument escalated into a physical confrontation.
According to the documents filed in federal court, Elderts and his friend, Shane Medeiros, began harassing fellow McDonald's customer Michel Perrine with racial slurs while all three were standing in line.
As Elderts and Medeiros continued to harass Perrine from another table, Deedy took notice of the situation and attempted to intervene. Hart said Deedy asked Perrine if he was all right, and soon after, Elderts turned his aggression toward the special agent.
According to the filing, Elderts threatened Deedy by saying, "Eh, (expletive) haole, you like beef?"
Hart claims when Deedy pulled out his credentials and a federal badge, Elderts asked Deedy, "Are you going to shoot me?”
Hart goes on to say that Elderts reached for something in his waistband and suddenly went around Jessica West, one of Deedy's two friends, as well as a bystander, Alexander Byrd. That's when Deedy employed a frontal kick to one of Elderts' legs as a defensive move.
Seconds later, Hart alleged that Elderts and Medeiros began assaulting Gutowski with kicks and blows to the head. As Deedy stepped toward Elderts, Medeiros and Gutowski, Elderts turned toward Deedy and punched him in the head, causing Deedy to fall to the floor near the McDonald's counter, according to the defense attorney’s account.
The court filing claims that "while on the floor, Elderts was on top of Special Agent Deedy and punched him in the face with his right fist at the same moment that he was trying with his left hand to take Special Agent Deedy's gun from him."
That's when Hart said Deedy feared for his life and the people around him, and was left no choice but to fire his weapon.
"Special Agent Deedy was compelled to discharge his gun, resulting in the death of Elderts," Hart wrote in the court filing.
After extracting himself from underneath Elderts, Deedy searched Elderts for weapons, told bystanders to call police, and immediately began CPR to keep Elderts from dying. Hart claims testing by police shows Elderts had gun powder residue on both hands.
The confrontation inside the McDonald's was captured by surveillance cameras, but last month, Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn agreed with prosecutors that the video and Hart's account of what happened should be sealed until trial. Ahn agreed the video and Hart's account could taint the jury pool.
On Wednesday, media attorney Jeffrey Portnoy asked Ahn to reconsider her original decision, arguing that both Hart and prosecutors had described the contents of the video in previous filings with the court.
"So, to seal the video now in light of everything that the attorneys on both sides have done is just wrong," Portnoy told the judge.
Ahn, however, was not swayed, and ruled the video and Hart's affidavit should remain sealed. She said it would be up to a federal judge to do the same if the case is moved from Circuit Court.
Hart argues a federal court is the proper jurisdiction for Deedy's case since federal agents are required to intervene if they come across an act of violence or other crime.
Michael Green, an attorney representing Elderts' family, did not return a phone call Wednesday from KITV4.