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Police officer charged with assaulting truck driver in road rage incident

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A Honolulu police officer was charged Tuesday with assaulting a truck driver during a road rage incident in December.

Officer Keoki Duarte was charged in a criminal complaint with unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, attempted unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, and third-degree assault.

Duarte allegedly assaulted truck driver Jonard Escalante, 26, of Kalihi, about noon Dec. 7.

Escalante said today that he accidentally hit Duarte’s car while changing lanes on Farrington Highway near Kahe power plant and pulled over. Duarte, who was off-duty at the time, got out and began shouting and swearing at Escalante, then punching Escalante’s passenger door.

Escalante said he was apologizing, but Duarte came to the driver’s door, opened it, and grabbed him, then threw him to the ground.

Duarte pushed Escalante, who was pleading for him to stop, to the ground multiple times and was punching and kicking him, then began chocking him until he began to black out, Escalante said.

“I tap him to let me go because I cannot breathe,” he said by phone today.

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