Hawaii deputy investigated for murder in Capitol shooting

HONOLULU — The Hawaii deputy sheriff who shot and killed a man at the state Capitol is now being investigated for murder.

The February shooting is classified as second-degree murder, Honolulu police said. It was originally classified as an unattended. Police sent it to prosecutors last month as murder, police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.

Delmar Espejo, 28, died of a gunshot wound to the back, an autopsy report said. “The wound path runs back to front, left to right, and slightly downward,” the report said.

After the shooting, state Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda said Espejo was shot in the upper torso and taken to a hospital, where he died.

Espejo ignored the deputy’s directions throw out the alcohol he was drinking and leave the Capitol grounds, Espinda said. Espejo then became physically combative and an “extreme struggle” ensued, Espinda said, and the deputy fired his weapon while the two were in close contact during the scuffle.

The deputy has been with the state Department of Public Safety since 2017 and is on restricted duty.

A public safety spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email Monday seeking comment on the re-classification.

Brooks Baehr, spokesman for the Honolulu prosecuting attorney’s office, said prosecutors are reviewing the case.

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