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Lawyer blasts HPD’s probe of alleged beating

HONOLULU — An attorney for the father and son allegedly hit with a Honolulu police van and beaten by up to 12 officers during an islandwide New Year’s Day manhunt for an attempted murder suspect said HPD has not identified or interviewed any of the officers involved.

HPD’s internal investigation is ongoing five months after the officers allegedly hit one man with a van, then beat him and his father.

Michael D. Rudy, an attorney for Vaokehekehe Mataele, 49, and his son, Tevita Cadiente, 25, told reporters at a Thursday news conference that they turned over video of the incident from witnesses and TV news media and witness lists to HPD’s Professional Standards Office “several months ago.”

Rudy made a public plea to the officers to “identify themselves and turn themselves in to internal affairs.”

Rudy declined to discuss details of his clients’ conversations with HPD officers investigating the New Year’s Day manhunt, gunfire fights and alleged beating. Mataele was originally identified by police as a suspect in the case.

“Based on those conversations (with police), we don’t believe anyone has been identified as a direct participant or a witness,” said Rudy, who noted that the images and video shared with police are sufficient to identify officers. “This notion of accountability is the foundation of our democracy. We are troubled and disappointed by the pace of this investigation.”

The video and images shared with police do not show the alleged beating.

In addition to the eight to 12 officers who participated in the alleged offense, 10 to 12 officers stood around and “watched this brutal beating,” Rudy said.

Cadiente suffered a facial fracture, a traumatic subconjunctival hemorrhage, a concussion, orthopedic knee injuries, cognitive impairment including memory loss and confusion, and vision loss, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that Mataele “shouted to the officers that he and his son were not involved in the chase, but that officers ignored his words and continued beating Mr. Cadiente for multiple minutes on end.” Mataele was allegedly held down and handcuffed, with his head forced onto the pavement.

Rudy said Cadiente’s cognitive functions are “coming back to baseline” but that he needs reconstructive knee surgery after the black police van ran him into a fence.

Police did not respond to Rudy’s allegations Thursday.

On Wednesday, Honolulu Police Chief Arthur “Joe” Logan told Honolulu police commissioners that he knew of the pending news conference by Rudy and that “HPD is reviewing all the aspects of what happened on New Year’s Day.”

“All of that is still under investigation. Sometime in the future the results of those investigations will be forthcoming,” Logan told the commissioners.

No officers have been placed on restricted duty, and the administrative review of the incident is underway and will include officers’ actions before and following the shooting, according to police.

Shortly after the Jan. 1 incident, Mataele and Cadiente took their case to the U.S. attorney’s office, which referred them to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C.

“We will not comment on nonpublic information regarding existence or nonexistence of criminal investigations,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Elliot Enoki, who declined to confirm or deny that allegations were brought to federal prosecutors.

Scott Humber, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s communications director, told the Honolulu Star-­Advertiser that the “city intends to fully cooperate with the Department of Justice should there be an investigation.”

“Thus, in order to maintain the integrity of the process, we will refrain from further comment at this time,” said Humber.

On Jan. 1 at 4:11 p.m., Mataele and Cadiente, residents of a condominium near Varsity Place and University Avenue, heard officers pursuing Sidney Tafokitau, 44, and went outside to watch.

Tafokitau was shot and killed by police after he opened fire with an assault rifle and seriously wounded two officers on University Avenue.

Mataele and Cadiente, who are Tongan like Tafokitau and knew him from church, jogged up University Avenue at about 4:14 p.m. Jan. 1 after hearing gunshots, to try to prevent further bloodshed, according to the complaint.

Cadiente tried to call Tafokitau twice, within the same minute, “to encourage Mr. Tafokitau to safely surrender,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that before Cadiente and Mataele made it to the overpass, an “unmarked white Honda pulled up in front of them, cutting off their path.”

“Two plain clothes officers emerged, pointing firearms at the unarmed father and son, who were in slippers and barefoot, Mr. Cadiente carrying only a cellphone and Mr. Mataele carrying nothing at all. The lawsuit describes how, as the father and son stood unarmed with their hands up, shocked and confused, a large black police van climbed the curb and ran Mr. Cadiente into a chain-link fence,” according to the complaint.

“With the fence absorbing the vehicle’s impact, Mr. Cadiente’s body slid under the police van. The lawsuit alleges that officers pulled Mr. Cadiente out from under the van, then began viciously beating him in the head, approximately 10-12 officers in turn using both their hands and the blunt ends of their weapons.”
Source: The Garden Island

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