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Civilian applied chokehold to victim, doctor contends

The autopsy report on Stephen Dinnan says his assailant let him go when told

By Associated Press


A man who died last month after a scuffle with police was put into a chokehold by the person accusing him of stealing a vehicle, according to a medical examiner’s report issued Wednesday.

Stephen Dinnan, 35, was running away from police June 3 when the man reporting an auto theft stopped him and put him in a chokehold, the report said. The auto theft complainant and an officer arrived at the Waimanalo home together.

“He brought the civilian there,” said attorney Myles Breiner, representing Dinnan’s family.

The man released the chokehold after the officer told him to, and Dinnan was still conscious.

Dinnan became unresponsive after he was handcuffed while prone, said the autopsy report by Dr. Kanthi De Alwis. He was taken off life support after he was pronounced brain dead the next day.

De Alwis ruled it a homicide with a cause of death listed as asphyxia due to compression during prone restraint.

Breiner told the Star-Advertiser last week the man involved was the father of the owner of the stolen vehicle.

Police have said that Dinnan fled when they arrived at the Waimanalo home to locate a stolen vehicle, and he fought off attempts to detain him. Dinnan became unresponsive shortly after he was brought under control, police said.

Police are conducting an internal investigation. The officer involved, a 26-year veteran of the force, was placed on administrative leave. He was later returned to active patrol duty, but after the autopsy report was released, he was reassigned to desk duties, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The family, including Dinnan’s girlfriend, Shardeh Serhant, the mother of their two children, is claiming excessive force and police misconduct.

“This officer, in my opinion, violated proper protocol,” Breiner said.

Police declined to comment.

Serhant’s previous attorney has said Dinnan wasn’t involved with any stolen vehicle and wasn’t running from police.

Breiner said he asked the FBI to investigate because he doesn’t believe Honolulu police will conduct an impartial investigation. The FBI won’t confirm whether there is such an investigation.

Breiner said he’s not yet exploring a lawsuit.

“I just want a proper investigation by an independent agency,” he said.

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Grimbold wrote:
A thieve runs away, gets tackled , dies. The background of Dinnan and his "girlfriend with his 2 kids" should be investigated. What did they live off? Smells of illicit living arrangement, so people can collect welfare.
on July 25,2013 | 03:37AM
bumba wrote:
You're full of yourself. Illicit living arrangement? I hope you're old so you won't be around for to much longer.
on July 25,2013 | 06:42AM
Grimbold wrote:
Producing kids over years with a girlfriend is illicit . Kids should only be produced from committed married couples.
on July 25,2013 | 07:36PM
NITRO08 wrote:
What does that have to do with what happened? A man is dead over a stolen car wake up!
on July 25,2013 | 06:46AM
96706 wrote:
I agree with you Grimbold. Another girlfriend looking to sue the City to help support those kids. Go figure.
on July 25,2013 | 08:13AM
allie wrote:
There is much we do not know. Wait for the facts!
on July 25,2013 | 10:55AM
walaau808 wrote:
That's hilarious coming from you!
on July 25,2013 | 02:42PM
scooters wrote:
Ambulance chasers..priceless...
on July 25,2013 | 04:07AM
NITRO08 wrote:
One word for you dumb.
on July 25,2013 | 06:46AM
Kate53 wrote:
So a civilian strangles and kills a suspected car thief, and people think that's okay? I don't care if the guy was a thief, was running. The police knew who he was, could chase him themselves, call for backup, put out an APB... Instead they let a civilian kill an unarmed man. Murder charges should be brought against the civilian, and the police officer who stood by and allowed the civilian to play cop should be fired. This killing is wrong on so many levels, and over replaceable property.
on July 25,2013 | 04:37AM
bumba wrote:
100% spot on.
on July 25,2013 | 06:43AM
Anonymous wrote:
Seems like the civilian acted on his own. The police officer ordered him to release the chokehold. Doesn't sound like police brutality to me but a case of vigilantism on the part of the civilian.
on July 25,2013 | 06:58AM
sayer wrote:
In either case it's not right. But I agree it doesn't sound like the officer is mainly at fault.
on July 25,2013 | 10:15AM
8082062424 wrote:
the civilian and the cop arrived at the same time. the cop stood by while the civilian got some justice of his own. the civilian is a Honolulu fire-fighter. I'm not sure if he retired or a active fire fighter. either way they both guilty
on July 25,2013 | 11:53AM
walaau808 wrote:
I'm so glad you were there to provide such an accurate account of what transpired! Can you also tell us what color BVD's everyone was wearing? How can you seriously know what everyone was thinking, who got there before whom, and how HPD should have handled the situation? Ah com' on!
on July 25,2013 | 02:47PM
Grimbold wrote:
I agree: Car thieves should not be killed by he general public. Better re-install death penalty for all severe crimes and hire an executioner.
on July 25,2013 | 07:39PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Sorry, but this guy was a punk and a loser. He did not deserve to die and I'm sure he wasn't killed intentionally. Let the courts decide. One thing bothers me about this case, the family filed the suit pretty quick. It's their right but it was quick.
on July 25,2013 | 06:53AM
96706 wrote:
Yup ... the family's looking for money from the City for child support.
on July 25,2013 | 08:14AM
ellinaskyrt wrote:

Where in the article does it say the family filed a lawsuit? Because this is in the article:

"Breiner said he’s not yet exploring a lawsuit.

“I just want a proper investigation by an independent agency,” he said.

on July 25,2013 | 09:39AM
TigerEye wrote:
Why bother reading the article when there's a picture? Too many words just confuses the issue...
on July 25,2013 | 10:00AM
walaau808 wrote:
If he said he's NOT exploring a lawsuit, then that's something. Not yet means - "we're looking to see who has the deeper pockets, and then we'll sue the pants off all of them"!
on July 25,2013 | 02:49PM
thos wrote:
"The man released the chokehold after the officer told him to, " The man who applied the choke hold should be charged with murder and the officer who was derelict in his duties TO PROTECT AND SERVE should be suspended without pay and charged as an accomplice.
on July 25,2013 | 07:17AM
whatzupwitdat wrote:
@kate 53; bumba,I totally agree! Let the case unfold and the truth will be told. Until then, don't JUDGE or assume! such ignorant comments when they don't know what actually happened! Do you know this family and how they support themselves? I actually saw this family a few days ago ; from my overservation, they are very nice people and the children are beautiful.!
on July 25,2013 | 09:13AM
Anonymous wrote:
This is what I think the outcome will be, the CHOKER will get a plea bargain to a lower charge of "manslaughter" face a 20 year sentence probably reduced to 7 with good behavior and a small compensation to the "victims" family, the police officer probably a 30 day suspension with "no pay" but if he was a that was one of the braddas he'll be back after all is forgotten and things will be back like nothing happen..land life goes on...thats how is done in today's society...the (2) kids left behind and the family members of the victim will never ever trust HPD and the justice system again.
on July 25,2013 | 09:31AM
TigerEye wrote:
"This is what I think the outcome will be..." So?
on July 25,2013 | 11:13AM
cojef wrote:
If the facts of the case does not change, it appears that the civilian is in heap of trouble for the choke hold. In many police jurisdictions, the choke is banned due to the serious dangers it poses. Lawsuits are result of wrongful deaths and rightfully so regardless the character of the victim. The victim's children can never be compensated enough for the wrongful death. FBI should get involved as the victim's civil rights was violated when vigilante justice was executed by the civilian.
on July 25,2013 | 12:47PM
Bully wrote:
The doctor didn't contend that the civilan applied the chokehold, she just said that the victim died of asphyxiation.Star Bulletin concluded that the civilian applied the chokehold.
on July 25,2013 | 02:30PM
lynnh wrote:
I want to know how a doctor can tell the difference between a civilian chock hold and a police chock hold.
on July 26,2013 | 01:05AM
lynnh wrote:
Funny how the civilian was never mentioned "until" it was finally deemed as a homicide. Pretty dang convenient.
on July 26,2013 | 01:08AM
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