Former correctional officers charged with assaulting inmate and falsifying reports

“Our communities entrust correctional officers to protect detention facilities and the inmates housed within them, and when such officers commit crimes within a detention facility, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Accused of repeatedly attacking an inmate and conspiring to cover-up the assaults, three former Hawaiian correctional officers were recently charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and filing false reports.

On June 15, 2015, Hawaii Community Correctional Officers Jason Tagaloa, Craig Pinkney, Jonathan Taum, and an unidentified fourth officer allegedly assaulted an inmate named Chawn Kaili in the jail’s recreation yard. According to the indictment, Tagaloa later assaulted Kaili in a holding cell, and that both assaults resulted in bodily injury for the inmate.

The indictment further alleges that the four correctional officers conspired to cover up their misconduct by engaging in a variety of obstructive acts, including devising a false cover story to justify their use of force, documenting that false cover story in official reports, and repeating that false cover story when questioned during the ensuing investigation and disciplinary proceedings arising out of the assault.

In 2017, Kaili filed a lawsuit naming Tagaloa, Pinkney, and Taum as defendants. The lawsuit also included former guard Joshua Demattos, ACO watch commander Jon Waikiki, and retired HCCC warden Peter MacDonald.

According to the lawsuit, Kaili suffered a broken jaw and facial scarring after Tagaloa, Pinkney, and Demattos punched and kicked him in the mouth, jaw, head, neck, and back. The lawsuit also alleges that at least part of the beating was recorded on surveillance video.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Honolulu, Hawaii, returned a six-count indictment charging Tagaloa, Pinkney, and Taum with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice and three counts of obstruction by false report. The maximum penalties for the charged crimes are 10 years of imprisonment for each of the deprivation-of-rights offenses, 20 years of imprisonment for each of the false report offenses, and 5 years of imprisonment for the conspiracy offense.

“Those committed to the custody of our state and federal detention facilities do not jettison their constitutional rights when they pass through the doors to those facilities. They are entitled to humane treatment, which includes constitutional safeguards, such as the right to be free of ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment while in custody,” stated U.S. Attorney Kenji Price.

“Our communities entrust correctional officers to protect detention facilities and the inmates housed within them, and when such officers commit crimes within a detention facility, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Price added.

“The few who illegally manipulate others using their official capacity will be caught and tried like any other criminal. The FBI is committed to restoring trust in law enforcement by holding those who abuse their privileges and abandon their responsibilities accountable,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Miranda.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the three indicted officers and Demattos are no longer employed with the department and their last day of employment was December 23, 2016. The DPS declined to comment whether the officers were fired or resigned.

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