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Kailua-Kona man dies in police custody after struggle

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:50 a.m. HST, Feb 5, 2014

Hawaii County police are investigating the case of a 39-year-old Kona man who died in police custody after a struggle Tuesday in Kailua-Kona.

At 12:30 a.m. today, a patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The 38-year-old driver was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

His passenger, 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona — wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders — fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot, and a struggle occurred while the officer was trying to apprehend him, police said. During the struggle, the officer sustained injuries. Other officers responded to the scene. After Hatori was in police custody, he became unresponsive. Fire Department personnel arrived and took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53. a.m.

The officer required treatment for his injuries at the hospital.

The driver was taken to the Kona police cellblock. In addition to the contempt charge, he was arrested on suspicion of promoting a dangerous drug. He remains at the cellblock while detectives continue that investigation.

Police have initiated a coroner's inquest investigation in connection with Hatori's death. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of death.

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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