Police custody death under investigation

The death of a 29-year-old Big Island man while in police custody Saturday is under investigation.

Hawaii Police Department officers in Ka‘u were dispatched about 11:20 a.m. to a report of a reckless driver operating a maroon-colored Scion. Officers made checks for the vehicle, but were unable to locate it.

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At 11:57 a.m., a traffic crash was reported on Highway 11 in South Kona with the responsible vehicle being described as a maroon-colored Scion, police said. The vehicle fled the scene, headed northbound on Highway 11.

At 12:05 p.m., a witness reported a maroon-colored Scion on the northbound shoulder of Highway 11 and saw the man who was driving the vehicle walk onto a property in the area. Shortly thereafter, dispatch received another call of reporting a man was attempting to break in to a vehicle on the same property. When the homeowners confronted the man, he reportedly began causing damage to the residence.

A relative of the residents, who lives in the area, arrived on scene to assist the homeowners, police said. Upon his arrival, a confrontation ensued in which a firearm was discharged.

Police said no injuries were reported, and did not clarify whom discharged the weapon. The confrontation then escalated into an assault where the man who had come onto the property was reported to be the aggressor.

Passers-by observed the relative being assaulted and stopped to assist, restraining the aggressor as police responded to the scene.

​​At 12:27 p.m., officers arrived on scene and after observing injuries suffered by both men requested medical attention.

The man reported to be the aggressor was then taken into police custody from the bystanders, police said.

“Upon assessment by the officers the male party was determined to be unresponsive. Officers immediately began performing CPR on the male party until Hawaii Fire Department personnel arrived. Hawaii Fire Department personnel were unable to revive man and he was transported to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m.,” police said in a media release.

The relative who had arrived to assist was also transported to Kona Community Hospital where he was treated and transferred to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu. He was last listed in critical condition.

Police have initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation in connection with the man’s death. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death. The party’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Additional investigations are ongoing relative to the associated incidents.

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Anyone with information regarding the incidents is encouraged to contact Detective Donovan Kohara at (808) 326-4646, ext. 238, or via email at donovan.kohara@hawaiicounty.gov. They may also contact the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.

As is standard practice in any police-involved death, the police department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

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