Hawaii News Man’s death while in Big Isle police custody is ruled homicide By Allison Schaefers email@example.com June 21, 2021 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! COURTESY PHOTO Charren Ka‘eo Ornellas A Hawaii island medical examiner has ruled the death of a 29-year-old Big Isle man while in police custody as a homicide. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. A Hawaii island medical examiner has ruled the death of a 29-year-old Big Isle man while in police custody as a homicide. Charren Ka‘eo Ornellas’ death certificate says the cause of death was “compression asphyxiation during physical restraint: interval minutes.” The certificate states that the injury occurred from “a physical altercation with other people” outside a Captain Cook residence. Detective Donovan Kohara told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that police are still investigating the incident, which took place March 20. Kohara said the Hawaii Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section also is reviewing the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation. “It’s classified as a homicide,” Kohara said. “We’ve pretty much wrapped everything up. We have to tie up the loose ends.” When a death is ruled a homicide, it means that one person caused the death of another. Homicides can stem from criminal acts such as murder or manslaughter or through noncriminal acts like justifiable self-defense. The Star-Advertiser has requested several public records related to the case. Realene Ornellas, Ornellas’ mother, said she has many questions related to her son’s death, but police have declined to give her official records like the initial police report and the autopsy report. “I want my son to have peace. He did not deserve to die like this,” she said. “I need closure.” Realene Ornellas said her “whole world melted” upon learning that her son, who would have been 30 on June 1, had died, leaving behind children and other loved ones. Though he had been battling addiction, Ornellas said her son was her “rock.” “His spirit is in me. I know he would want me to continue (seeking answers),” she said. Kohara said police have been transparent in addressing the family’s concerns but are still completing their investigation. “No arrests have been made yet. We are going to forward it to the prosecutors and have them review the case,” he said. “It’s like that officer-involved shooting up on Oahu: We are not the ones coming down with the charges; the prosecutor came down with the charges on that.” Ornellas came into police custody after Kau patrol officers received a series of reports that appeared to connect him to incidents ranging from reckless driving to fleeing the scene of an accident, a car break-in, property damage and assault. Police said a witness reported Charren Ornellas’ maroon-colored Scion on the northbound shoulder of Highway 11 at about 12:05 p.m. March 20, and said they saw him walking onto a property in the area. Shortly after that sighting, police said, emergency dispatch received a call that Ornellas was attempting to break into a vehicle on the property. According to the police report, Ornellas allegedly damaged the residence after the homeowners made contact with him. Police said more conflict ensued when a nearby relative of the residents arrived. “Upon contact with Ornellas a confrontation ensued in which a firearm was discharged. No injuries were reported in relation to the discharge,” police said. “The confrontation then escalated into an assault where Ornellas was reported to be the aggressor.” Police said passersby observed the relative being assaulted and stopped to assist and restrain Ornellas. Police reported that they arrived at the scene at 12:27 p.m. and requested medical assistance for Ornellas and the relative, who had been injured in the assault. Kohara said Ornellas was unresponsive when police took him into custody. Police said officers at the scene began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation until Hawaii Fire Department personnel arrived. HFD personnel were unable to revive him, and he was transported to Kona Community Hospital. Kohara said he could not say when Ornellas died, as the timeline is still under investigation. The death certificate says Ornellas was injured at approximately 12:15 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. Kohara said there was a lag between Ornellas’ death and when he was pronounced dead because “we don’t have a medical examiner that comes out to the scene.” Police have not released the names of others at the scene, including the man who was hospitalized after intervening in the incident at his relative’s home. Previous Story Vital Statistics: June 4-10, 2021 Next Story Kokua Line: Does the state government know what percentage of its workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19?