An employee found dead today in a Halawa prison bathroom was the cook supervisor at the staff dining hall at the Halawa Medium Security Facility, the Department of Public Safety said.
Public Safety officials declined to say whether foul play is suspected or whether any apparent cause of death could be provided.
“The death is under active investigation, which is normal procedure,” Public Safety said in a written response. “We can’t speculate on the cause of death and will be awaiting the coroner’s final determination.”
The death comes exactly two weeks after the controversial Senate confirmation of Nolan Espinda, who will continue to head for another four years the Department of Public Safety, which has come under fire for allegations from staff that leadership perpetuated a culture of fear and retaliation.
Espinda’s confirmation came despite a Senate committee recommending against it.
Public Safety has been under numerous internal and external investigations including: 1) an FBI probe into falsifying information relating to inmate rapes; 2) the March riots at Maui Community Correctional Center; 3) the unusual March escape from Oahu Community Correctional Center by an inmate, who was shot by a deputy sheriff in a residential neighborhood and returned for treatment to OCCC where he died rather than calling for paramedics, and 4) the fatal shooting in February by another deputy of a disabled man who was drinking at the state Capitol.
Police said an initial investigation reveals no obvious signs of foul play.
Public Safety said the Halawa Correctional Facility employee was found unconscious in a staff bathroom at about 3:10 p.m. The prison’s medical staff member responded and confirmed the man was dead shortly thereafter.
As for who would have access to the bathroom, Public Safety said it is a staff bathroom, and for staff use only.
Emergency Medical Services personnel were called and responded to the scene, Public Safety said.
“Preliminary reports are still being compiled,” Public Safety said late Monday afternoon.
In addition to police, the Attorney General’s Office investigators and Public Safety Internal Affairs are investigating the death.
Any further information on the investigation and the worker’s employment history and age will be provided as it becomes available, Public Safety said.