A 28-year-old man died in Kaneohe Wednesday while in police custody.

He is the second person to die in the process of getting arrested by Honolulu police this year. His death comes as the Honolulu Police Department is under increased scrutiny for their use of force practices in the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Ballard says the department is reviewing its use of force policy and temporarily suspended its use of vascular neck restraints.

The HPD officer involved in Wednesday’s case where a man died in police custody will be offered administrative leave. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Not much is known yet about how the Kaneohe man died. His death is still under investigation by the Honolulu medical examiner.

Police say the man was combative until he became unresponsive while being restrained by handcuffs and shackles.

Michelle Yu, a spokeswoman for Honolulu Police Department, said around 9 a.m. Wednesday a patrol officer responded to a report of an argument on Ka Hanahou Circle. The man was in an argument with another person and lying in a truck that didn’t belong to him, Yu said.

“The male was combative and punching and kicking the truck’s interior before he slid out of the vehicle and began struggling with the officer and the bystander,” Yu said in an email.

She said a second officer arrived and the man was handcuffed. A third officer shackled his legs after the man continued to struggle and called an ambulance, she said.

“The male was seated on the ground and leaning against one of the vehicles when he became unresponsive. Officers and the bystander provided first aid until paramedics arrived and provided advanced medical treatment. The male was pronounced at the scene,” she said.

“Unauthorized entry into motor vehicle, criminal property damage, and disorderly conduct investigations have been opened. An administrative investigation has also been initiated as is standard procedure for officer-involved incidents,” Yu said.

HPD hasn’t issued a press release or held a press conference about the incident, but has shared some information about it with the media upon request.

There’s a lot that’s still unknown. A representative from the medical examiner’s office said Thursday that they can’t release any information on the deceased, such as his name and manner of death, until he is identified and his family is notified.

There is no police footage of the incident, as officers in District 4 do not yet have body cameras, Yu said.

HPD doesn’t release the names of officers involved in deaths unless they are arrested. The only information that HPD has released about the officers involved is that they were assigned to District 4 and have 7, 8, and 29 years of service.

Yu said the officers will be offered administrative leave, which is paid.

“The investigation is continuing,” she said.

This is a developing story. Check back to Civil Beat for updates. 

What sets us apart.

Regardless of who or what you voted for, we hope we’ve distinguished ourselves from other news media through our election coverage as well as our commitment to strengthening the civic health of Hawaii.

Now, we’re asking you to consider becoming part of something larger than yourself by joining as a Civil Beat member.

Make a gift today and support independent journalism focused on improving Hawaii’s democracy.

About the Author