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Taser did not play role in police custody death, pathologist says

April 16, 2014 - 8:01am

The final results of an autopsy on the body of 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona concluded that the cause of death was cardio-respiratory arrest because of the combined effects of high levels of methamphetamine in his blood, an enlarged heart and a physical struggle.

According to Dr. Lindsey Harle, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, the stress of these three factors likely caused a cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm, that led to his death, according to the Hawaii Police Department. A Taser used by police to subdue Hatori did not play a role in his death, Harle said.

At 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 4, a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court, according to police. Hatori, who was a passenger and was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders, fled on foot, according to police.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while he tried to apprehend him. Initially unable to restrain Hatori, the officer deployed his Taser in an attempt to subdue him. Hatori continued to actively resist arrest and the struggle continued. Other officers responded to the scene and assisted in restraining Hatori, according to police. After Hatori was placed in handcuffs, he became unresponsive.

Hawaii County Fire Department EMTs attempted resuscitation and then transported Hatori to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m., according to police.

Detectives reported locating 7.3 grams of methamphetamine at the scene of the struggle, according to police.

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