The state has tentatively agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit over an attack involving alleged gang members at the state’s largest jail after staff left doors and gates open in the facility, giving a group of inmates an opportunity to move between floors and use clubs and shanks to attack another prisoner.

According to court records, the attack left Faatalale Auelua “covered in blood from head to toe,” but he survived. Auelua was 41 at the time of the attack on May 17, 2015, and had been booked into Oahu Community Correctional Center to await trial for a misdemeanor assault charge and driving with a suspended license, records show.

According to Auelua’s lawyer, Michael Stern, the dispute between Auelua and members of a gang identified in court records as USO Family began when Auelua told gang members to stop stealing yogurt from an older prisoner.

Oahu Community Correctional Center.
The state has tentatively agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from an attack at the Oahu Community Correctional Center by alleged gang members. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

According to testimony submitted by the state Attorney General’s Office in support of the settlement, Auelua was asleep in a top bunk on the second floor of a dormitory in the jail known as Annex II when he was attacked.

According to reports in the case, staff reported hearing a commotion at about 8:25 a.m., and someone yelling.

The attack involved “alleged gang members who were housed on the first floor but gained access to the second floor through unlocked and open gates,” according to the AG’s testimony. “The gates should have been locked as required by OCCC policies and procedures.”

Auelua suffered what was described by staff as a “huge gash” to his head along with cuts to his hands and body. The statement from the AG’s staff said Auelua suffered a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder in the attack.

He was treated for his injuries at The Queen’s Medical Center, and returned to the jail.

The case was classified as an attempted murder by Honolulu police, and was recorded on video by jail cameras. No information was available on whether the inmates involved in the attack have been charged or convicted.

The settlement in the case was approved as part of Senate Bill 3041 by the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee on Tuesday, and now advances to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.

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