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New Mexico officers sue Maui police after being arrested on vacation

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A retired New Mexico police chief and a reserve officer have filed a lawsuit in federal court saying they were arrested without explanation while vacationing on Maui.

Jason Griego was the Cuba City Police Department’s chief in 2013 when he and Reserve Officer James Sanchez were on vacation, providing private security for a New Mexico businessman on Maui. A lawsuit they filed this week in federal court in Honolulu said Maui police officers went to their hotel rooms, handcuffed them and took them to a holding cell, where the floor was covered with urine and feces.

They were released several hours later without any charges being filed, the lawsuit said. An officer met them at the airport the next day and told them there appeared to be a misunderstanding, the lawsuit said.

While detained, Griego was taunted by an officer “about how it feels to be a police chief and to be in cuffs, told not to worry about the charges against him, that they would figure it out, and that his bond would be so high he wouldn’t be able to bail out,” the lawsuit said.

After they were released, they found out their families had been evicted from the resort because a police officer said they had violently attacked someone, the lawsuit said.

They were never given any police reports or reasons for the arrests, said their Honolulu attorney, Eric Seitz.

Maui County Deputy Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey said the two failed to comply with Hawaii law when they brought their firearms into the state.

Carrying a gun in public in Hawaii requires a license that’s sparingly approved by county chiefs of police. But as law enforcement officers, Griego and Sanchez weren’t subject to that requirement, Seitz said. “We’re not aware of any requirements or violations that occurred,” he said.

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