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Trial delayed for Big Isle police officer in assault case

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    Jami Harper

KAILUA-KONA » The trial for a Big Island police officer charged with assaulting his 72-year-old neighbor in Kailua-Kona has been put on hold while the officer undergoes a mental examination.

Officer Jami Harper’s attorney, Michael Schlueter, filed a motion seeking to have his client examined for his “capacity,” not his “fitness to proceed” with trial. Kona Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra said Friday he will reschedule the trial, which was originally set for July 26, after doctors release their findings in September.

Schlueter would not comment on the motion following Friday’s hearing other than to say “we’re covering all the bases,” West Hawaii Today reported.

The 39-year-old Hawaii County Police Department officer was arrested Jan. 27 following a physical confrontation with a man at their apartment complex when he was off duty. The victim suffered a broken nose, bruising to his right eye and arm and needed stitches for a cut above his eye.

Harper was hospitalized for an undisclosed medical condition after the incident.

During the preliminary hearing, Harper testified he had gone to the man’s apartment because of loud noise. He said the man grabbed him at the door and that he took the man to the ground and restrained him, as part of his training.

Harper, who is charged with second-degree assault, faces up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines for the incident.

He remains free on bail pending the trial.

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