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Civilian applied chokehold to victim, doctor contends

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  • Stephen Dinnan is pictured here with his family. The Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy today on the 35-year-old Hauula man

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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