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NAT’L – LE – Case points to critical need for policy guiding carrying of weapons off duty

You figure out who’s unlucky. Hyun Ju Park or Anson Kimura? The bystander officers at the bar? The chief? Or all the above? Park was a bartender at a Honolulu sports bar. Three off-duty Honolulu Police Department officers stopped by the bar and proceeded to drink. After Officer Kimura downed seven beers, he decided to check to see whether his revolver was loaded. It was, but that didn’t stop him from trying to cram in more bullets – much to the amusement of the two bystander officers. Kimura dropped his revolver. Somehow it discharged. A bullet struck Park, causing life-threatening injuries. Park sued Kimura for her injuries and she sued the other officers for failure to intervene in Kimura’s dangerous horseplay with his revolver. Park also sued the county as the sponsoring government entity of the police department, citing the department policy requiring officers to carry guns off-duty, coupled with a lack of guidance on carrying weapons when chemically impaired and aggravated by “a ‘brotherhood culture of silence’ that condoned police misconduct and affirmatively discouraged officers from reporting their colleagues’ transgressions.” Park settled her claims against Kimura, leaving the county and the other two officers as defendants. Park had the initial burden to show an injury that resulted from a party acting under color of law. The court held the bystander officers were not acting under color of law at the time they were watching the drunken Kimura try to load a loaded revolver.  [full article]

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