No one knows better the danger that a tense circumstance can present than police in the United States. Constantly under pressure to control people who are guaranteed rights that provide them a wide latitude of no control, the scenarios that citizens can present range from the mundane to sheer terror, even for a trained professional. With that thought, we continue to reflect on moments in the history of law enforcement we wish we could get back, the sacrifices of those that have paid the ultimate price on our behalf.
Everyone knows Hawaii. A tropical paradise that the likes of Elvis would call home, and would have likely stayed, if not for the entertainment business and its lengthy travel schedules. Everyone wants to vacation in Hawaii, and usually that turns into wanting beachfront property in Hawaii, extending vacations, and never wanting to leave. Still, there are those that look to harm that pristine image, and none worse than the following chapter in our history.
Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez
Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez was a 27 year-old, five-year veteran of Hawaii’s Sheriff Division, the defacto State Law Enforcement Agency in the Islands. He was a light-hearted guy that had the size and shape of an Olympic wrestler, known by the moniker “Dirty.” Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez was known for wanting to help people, routinely reaching out to people in need, that he didn’t know. He also worked a part time job, as a bar back at the Osake Sushi Bar in Honolulu. On February 10th, 2007, John Lorenzo Jr. showed up at the bar, discharged a firearm into the ceiling and wall at the bar, and demanded all the employees into a lounge area, isolated from direct exits. Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez, unarmed, attempted to subdue Lorenzo, who fought him off, and shot Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez three times, killing him.
The remaining staff subdued Lorenzo, and it was discovered that he was wearing a military grade flak vest, which explained why Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez had difficulty wrestling Lorenzo down. Reading some of the highlights from Lorenzo’s subsequent trial makes one’s skin crawl, especially when reading those from the defense. The defense attorney for Lorenzo argued that Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez, whose blood alcohol level at the time of the incident was .104, should not have acted when Lorenzo fired the gun, because all Lorenzo was doing was shooting “warning shots” and that he was going to quietly back out of the bar after doing so. Which begs the question, why order everyone into a back room and follow them in, if that was the case? And defense also tried to argue that Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez didn’t “heed” Lorenzo’s warnings, and then defined the act undertaken by Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez as an attack. We can appreciate a spirited defense of any criminal. But we also appreciate when that defense is based in reality. We believe it’s important to note that the BAC level described was because the bar was already closed a long time prior to this robbery attempt, and that the employees were enjoying their time off, and so was Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez, which was legal last time we checked.
Lorenzo’s story doesn’t end there. During the trial, he attempted to escape custody, and jumped from the roof of a correctional facility, ultimately breaking both legs and arms. He was captured easily.
It turns out Lorenzo has a criminal history (who would have guessed), and much it involves drug possession and drug distribution. A jury of his peers found him guilty of Second-Degree Murder, Kidnapping, Weapons Violations, and reduced an Attempted Second-Degree Murder charge to Reckless Endangerment. They acquitted Lorenzo of the Armed Robbery charge. The gun Lorenzo used had a silencer, and was stolen to boot. All this, while facing felony drug and Driving Under the Influence charges from a crime committed earlier in the year. Needless to say, there isn’t enough justice on the planet to provide a reasonable sentence, but we do know Lorenzo effectively received life, with the unlikely possibility of parole.
Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez’ funeral took place on the Pacific Ocean, off Kewalo Basin, where his mother, Robina Browne spread his ashes. Hundreds of people attended, to include lots of law enforcement officers. They remarked about how Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez fought, instead of run, how he saved everyone else in that bar by fighting, which he most certainly did, and how he was a hero. We take issue with that thought. He is a hero, there’s no ‘was’ about it. It is said in some law enforcement circles, that when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. This is a somewhat cavalier summary of circumstances that officers are placed in on any given day. But what Deputy Sheriff Browne-Sanchez did that Saturday morning is the response all people facing certain doom should do, and that’s fight to the finish.
In memory of Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez.