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3 former Hawaii island correctional officers charged for 2015 attack on inmate

  • TIM WRIGHT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
                                Hawaii Community Correctional Center

    TIM WRIGHT / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Hawaii Community Correctional Center

Three former correctional officers at Hawaii Community Correctional Center have been charged with assaulting an inmate in 2015 and attempting to cover it up.

An indictment in the federal case alleged that Jason Tagaloa, 29, Craig Pinkney, 36, Jonathan Taum, 48, and an unidentified fourth officer assaulted an inmate in the jail’s recreation yard.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan of the District of Hawaii, Special Litigation Counsel Christopher Perras and trial attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division have partnered in prosecuting the case.

For several minutes the four correctional officers allegedly pinned the unidentified inmate facedown on the ground and punched, kicked and kneed him dozens of times in the face, head and body. The inmate suffered bodily injures.

He was described as “not violent or aggressive with the Officers before they took him to the ground.”

Tagaloa, Pinkney and Taum were charged with “deprivation of rights under color of law,” as inmates are protected from cruel and unusual punishment.

Tagaloa is facing a second deprivation of rights charge for attacking the same inmate in a holding cell later that day.

Tagaloa, Pinkney and Taum have also been charged with “conspiracy to object justice” in trying to cover up the attack, and all three were individually charged with “obstruction by false report.”

The indictment states the officers discussed what information to include and omit from their individual reports.

Those reports did not mention that the officers pinned the inmate facedown in HCCC’s recreational yard. The indictment also alleges that Tagaloa omitted physically assaulting the inmate in the holding cell.

Taum’s report stated that the inmate “attempted to run and resisted transfer” to another cell, but the indictment called that report “false and misleading” and stated that the inmate did not run and only “resisted for a brief period but did not resist for ‘the entire time’ the officers were using force against him.”

After learning about an investigation into the assault, the four correctional officers allegedly studied a copy of surveillance footage at Taum’s home and agreed on an explanation for attacking the inmate.

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