Video of police beating gets replay | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Video of police beating gets replay

  • RECORDED BY ROBERT BILLAND

    An image taken from video of Honolulu police officer Ming Wang approaching Jamie Kalani Rice after responding to a complaint that Rice had been harassing a Hawaiian monkseal at Nanakuli Beach Park.

  • RECORDED BY ROBERT BILLAND

    Honolulu police officer Ming Wang is seen on video footage beating Rice with a baton, when Rice continued to walk away after being told to stop and that he was under arrest.

An Oahu grand jury could take up the case of a Honolulu police officer repeatedly beating a man with his baton — an act caught on video, the prosecutor’s office said.

Deputy prosecutors initially declined to pursue charges against the officer, Ming Wang, a 10-year veteran of the department.

But Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro has ordered his staff to review the case further. Spokesman Dave Koga said that could include presenting the case to a grand jury.

The video was shot Sept. 11, 2014, by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration volunteers Barbara and Robert Billand, who had put up warning signs to keep people away from a monk seal on a Nanakuli beach.

They told police Jamie Kalani Rice, 41, ignored the signs and was harassing the endangered animal.

The Billands recorded the video and submitted it to help prosecute Rice. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser in recent weeks received a copy of the video, which shows Rice kneeling next to the seal.

It then shows officer Wang approach Rice and take out his baton and pepper spray. Wang follows Rice when Rice walks away, shoots him with pepper spray and hits Rice multiple times with the baton until Rice goes down to the ground.

“The officer did what he had to do,” Barbara Billand said. “The guy was a big man and the officer was alone. The guy wouldn’t listen. We didn’t know what he was going to do.”

Wang arrested Rice for allegedly harassing a monk seal and resisting arrest, but prosecutors charged Rice only with harassing the seal. A grand jury later indicted Rice on the charge, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Wang said in his police report that Rice refused his orders to step away from the seal. When Rice started to walk away, he said, he told Rice that he was under arrest and ordered him to stop at least six times but that Rice kept walking.

He said he shot pepper spray into Rice’s face twice, but that it had no effect. He said he then hit Rice five times in the right thigh with his baton after Rice ignored his command to get on the ground.

Wang said he shot pepper spray into Rice’s face two more times, and hit him in the left thigh four times and the right thigh one more time. He said he stopped hitting Rice after Rice was face down on the ground.

He said he then pushed his boot into the left side of Rice’s body to make sure he was no longer resisting.

Wang asked for an ambulance to treat Rice for exposure to pepper spray. A city emergency medical technician treated Rice at the scene.

Another officer transported Rice to the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, where Rice refused treatment for injuries to his hands.

Police took Rice to the Honolulu Police Department’s Kapolei Station, where they determined that he was not under the influence of alcohol. Rice waived his right to a lawyer and gave police a statement.

While still in police custody he also signed a waiver of prosecution for the injuries he suffered during his arrest. Police later transported Rice to the Queen’s Medical Center-West Oahu in Ewa Beach, where he was treated for broken bones in his right hand.

HPD says it initiated administrative and criminal assault investigations against Wang, and as standard procedure for officer-involved incidents, forwarded the criminal investigation to prosecutors for review. HPD also reassigned Wang to desk duty while the investigations were pending.

The department said it completed its administrative investigation but cannot comment on it because such investigations are confidential unless they result in employee termination.

The prosecutor’s office declined to pursue charges against Wang in June. The deputy who reviewed the case said he recommended against prosecuting Wang because the video did not record whatever Wang and Rice said to one another and that Rice had signed a waiver of prosecution.

Wang is on full patrol duty but is no longer assigned to Leeward Oahu, according to HPD.

Wang, 44, pleaded guilty in 2009 to misdemeanor assault and petty misdemeanor harassment. A state judge granted his request to defer his guilty pleas and, after a year, dismissed the charges. He was originally charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse instead of assault. The change from domestic abuse to assault allowed Wang to keep his job as a police officer and to own firearms.

Rice, meanwhile, was unable to post $15,000 bail to get out of custody while his criminal case was pending. During his time in custody, the court ordered him to undergo two mental examinations and sent him to the Hawaii State Hospital for three months for mental health treatment.

He accepted a lesser charge last month in a plea deal with the prosecutor. In exchange for his no contest plea to obstructing a government operation, a misdemeanor, the prosecutor promised to recommend a sentence equal to the amount of time he had already spent in custody.

Rice’s lawyer, Iokona Baker, asked acting Circuit Judge Paul B.K. Wong to impose a five-day jail term.

Before Wong accepted the plea, he asked Rice a litany of standard questions to see whether he understood all of the legal ramifications of forgoing a trial and whether he made the choice freely.

Rice told Wong that his mind was clear and that he takes medication to treat his paranoid schizophrenia.

He said he believed the seal was sick and never meant harm or ill will toward it or anyone else.

Rice told police he chanted and shared his mana, or energy, by rubbing sand on himself and tossing the sand into the air, to heal the seal.

“Mr. Rice is very familiar with this particular seal,” Baker said. “He’s from the area. Mr. Rice is of Hawaiian ancestry.”

Rice repeatedly told Wong that the reason he accepted the plea deal was to get out of jail as soon as possible.

“I’m done with jail, I’m sick and tired of it. I’m just looking at this time served. That’s all I’m looking at, judge. I tired, I like go home,” Rice said.

He has two prior convictions for petty misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Wong accepted Rice’s plea, sentenced him to five days in jail and credited him with having already completed the sentence.

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  • You know, once an officer places you under arrest, you can’t walk away, lol. You absolutely cannot win. He will do, and is required to do whatever it takes to detain you. I have to side with the officer on this. However, convicted of assault and harassment and still on the job? Big thanks to SHOPO for that. Between the officer and Rice, the officer’s prior convictions seem to be the more serious, and he’s still got a gun. Go figure.

  • The officer did what he had to do to get him arrested. The guy was yelling like a crazy man and not listening. If he had just grabbed him they would have been in a wrestling match or fight.

  • Neither individual’s prior records are relevant to the case. The officer gave a lawful order when he found Rice breaking state and federal laws. Rice didn’t comply. Where is the story?

  • This guy does appear to have a mental problem which kind of explains what he was doing with the seal.
    The officer should have waited for backup before approaching given that the guy was not doing anything aggressive to the seal.
    Police often do not respond well to people who are mentally disturbed especially when they do not follow police commands. This often results in
    resorting to force when it is not always appropriate or necessary.

  • It says “Kaneshiro has ordered his staff to review the case further. Spokesman Dave Koga said that could including presenting the case to a grand jury.” Yeah great Kaneshiro, waste taxpayers money with this case. After watching the whole video, the guy was not listening to the officer, plus he was yelling and walking away from the officer. I was offended at the fact that Rice was throwing sand at the monk seal and you could obviously see that the seal was distressed. How about you go after Rice more vigorously instead!

  • A very disturbing video. The subject appears to be mentally unstable and should have heeded the officer’s commands. Perhaps the officer could have waited for more officers to help subdue the man, but would he have submitted if more officers were present? I don’t think so. But I hated to see the man struck repeatedly by the baton. I’d like to hear from police experts, what if tactics, if any, could have been deployed to subdue the man. Policing is not a fun business. The men in blue deserve our respect because sometimes they are damned if you and damed if you don’t. That is why I wear an aloha shirt to work and not a velcro vest and gun belt.

  • Rice was not resisting, he was just walking away. Hey swallow your pride,wait for back up then make the arrest. To escalate from verbal stop to mace and a beating with steel baton is too much. Wang may know this person. Plus this guy is a local from the area. Wang should have waited. Rice actually complied to get away from the seal. Chief Kealoha is going down hill fast.

  • As a general rule, if you haven’t been told by a police officer you’re free to go, DO NOT give up the right to remain silent. DO NOT consent to a search without a warrant. DO NOT give up the right to an attorney. Finally, DO NOT sign anything without your attorney present. Relinquishing your rights prevents a whole wall of constitutional protections from falling into place to protect you. An officer might still go ahead and conduct a warrantless search, but you must politely and repeatedly voice objections as it takes place. (Driving a motor vehicle is a special case in that you are obligated to surrender your license and registration if these documents are requested by the police.) Even if you feel you’re completely innocent of wrongdoing, the most important thing is to just keep your mouth shut and stand by your rights. It’s foolish in the extreme not to.

  • Let’s see if I got this correct. The prosecutors office declined prosecution because the victim/ suspect video had no audio and victim/ suspect declined to prosecute? Sounds like an inside clean up job if you asked me. In addition, the PO in this case is a ten year veteran with a history of Domestic Violence, down graded to misdemeanor assault and petty misdemeanor harassment, before being dismissed on a DAG for good behavior. First, if this officer was arrested for Domestic Violence and subsequently convicted of Assault in the Third Degree, he should have lost his employment. The lautenberg law prohibits Law Enforcement Officers from carrying firearm upon conviction of a violent crime. Assault in the 3rd Degree is classified as a violent crime and will subject legal immigrants into deportation proceeding. Second, if the LE Officer was arrested for DV all this means that he committed the act perhaps numerous times in the past, but was only arrested for it was once. Probably because his significant other became tired of his abuse and notified 911. Finally, this type of behavior by a LE Officer should not be tolerated because it leaves the public vulnerable to unlawful abuse by a peace officer. We live in a society today where LE Officers are well compensated for providing professional service to the public. They are given extensive training on how to de-escalate difficult and dangerous situations. They are well trained on how to deal with people with mental illness or who may be coming down from illicit drug use. There is absolutely no excuse for the LE Officer behavior. The question to answer was he a threat to the public, was he threat to himself, was he threat to others? “No.” Did the victim/ suspect violate any laws? “Perhaps.” Did the unlawful act by the victim/ suspect warrant the use of intermediate force by the LE Officer? The answer here should be no. Moreover, did the waiver provided by the victim/ suspect against counter prosecution and lack of video audio was this enough to halt administrative, civil, and criminal prosecution. The answer here should be “absolute no,”. The only part I agreed with iin this case is that the case is pending further administrative investigation and the LEO was placed on desk duty. I strongly feel this case needs to be forwarded to the FBI for impartial criminal investigation. There appears to be enough evidence to prosecute this case based on the physical evidence, training records, and all witness statements. This case should be an example and training tool for all new recruits. God Speed.

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