(BIVN) – The Hawai‘i State Public Safety Director, Nolan Espinda, held a press conference on Oahu following the mistaken release of Brian Smith from the Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center on Tuesday, July 24. It took officials two days to realize Smith was erroneously let go; Smith failed to appear in court for a hearing on Thursday, July 26. Smith has been taken back into custody by Hawaiʻi County Police.
“I want to express our deepest regrets for the undue duress our error caused the Hawaii island community as it endured the situation caused by our error,” Espinda said. “We regret having added to your misery over the past 24 hours. Please accept our sincere apology.”
Smith had been in custody since June after being charged with the fatal shooting of Thomas Ballesteros Jr. in South Kona. According to police:
Shortly after 11:00 p.m., on Thursday evening, (July 26), Brian Lee Smith, 49-years-old, called police dispatch from a business in the Captain Cook area and requested to turn himself into police. Kona Patrol officers were immediately dispatched. Smith was located and taken into custody without incident. He had an outstanding bench warrant issued after he failed to appear in court for a hearing on Thursday, (July 26). Smith was transported to the Kona Police cellblock where he remains in lieu of $2,000,000 bail.
“We are grateful to the Hawaii County Polcie department for arresting Smith. The HPD stepped up in this crisis, even while working through their own period of mourning,” Espinda said, referring to the recent death of police officer Bronson Kaliloa, shot and killed by 33-year old Justin Waiki during a traffic stop in Mountain View. After an intense manhunt, Waiki was located and killed after a shootout with police.
Espinda had few answers as to how Smith was mistakenly released, saying that he would personally oversee the investigation into how it happened.