Inmate arrested in deadly fight at OCCC

Inmate arrested in deadly fight at OCCC
Joseph Tui
Joseph Tui

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 32-year-old man is in police custody after a deadly fight at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

A Public Safety Department spokesperson says the brawl happened around 2 p.m. Saturday between two inmates inside an OCCC cell.

Joseph Tui allegedly assaulted his 76-year-old cell mate, who suffered extensive head injuries.

The victim was rushed to the Queen's Medical Center where he later died at around 5 p.m. Saturday night.

Police arrested Tui on suspicion of first-degree murder. Officials say both men were being held in a special section of the jail because of misconduct.

"The holding unit is a distinct place within the facility where we separate," said Ted Sakai, director of the state Public Safety Department. "It is sort of like a jail within a jail and so this is reserved for people who really need to be separated."

The scuffle happened in a five-minute window during a shift change at the holding unit and the inmates weren't being watched.

Sakai says staffing wasn't the problem, but rather, space within the jail.

"The whole facility is overcrowded," Sakai said. "We have 36 cells in the holding unit. Two of them are out of commission because it is a very old unit and yesterday, we had 49 inmates who needed to be separated. So we had a number of cells that had to be doubled up."

Tui was serving an assault sentence for disrupting filming of a 'Hawaii Five-0' episode in July.

It's one of his 14 prior convictions, which include sex assault and theft.  But in 2009, he was the victim of an assault by three guards at the Halawa Correctional Facility.

This is the second incident in recent weeks that's happened under the Department of Public Safety's watch.

Last month, Teddy Munet escaped from eight correctional officers while being transferred to Circuit Court.

State Senator Will Espero, who chairs the Senate's Public Safety Committee, says more oversight is needed within the department.

"You've got the extreme of an escape to the extreme of a murder within your facility and if I were Ted Sakai, I would certainly be asking many questions and double checking with the supervisors and staff and see if there are some accountability issues that we have to deal with," Espero said.

Both the Department of Public Safety and HPD are investigating the incident.

The identity of the victim has yet to be released. Tui remains in police custody and has yet to be charged.

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