HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The family of a Kaneohe man who died after he was arrested by police arrest say now they plan to sue the city as early as this week.
The City Medical Examiner said today that 35-year-old Stephen Dinnan did not suffer assault-related injuries but his family's attorney says Dinnan lapsed into a coma after police placed him in a choke hold.
"You don't have to tackle the man, handcuff him -- he's all of 160 pounds -- choke him out," said attorney William Harrison.
"Face down, on the ground and he had scrapes and bruises on his face on his neck, over his arms and on his back."
Honolulu Police has placed a 26-year veteran on administrative leave and an investigation is ongoing.
Police would not say whether a choke hold was applied but did say that HPD policy does allow for such restraints and that officers are trained to use these holds.
Experts say there's no clear standard as to when such restraints could be used. Some cities like Los Angeles only use choke holds only in deadly situations due to public outcry over rising deaths.
"It's got to be reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances," said Jeff Martin, a retired police officer and San Jose, Calif.-based expert on police procedures,
"Example: if you're dealing with somebody who is exhibiting erratic violent behavior."
Harrison says Dinnan was not a violent person.
"Clearly it should not have been used in this kind of situation, I can see that if there was some kind of violence involved against the police officers but not in an investigation of a theft of an automobile."
Harrison denied that Dinnan was involved in the car theft case.
"My understanding is that he had a child in his hands when officers were running toward him. so he turned to put the child in the car and he turned around and everything else broke loose."
Medical examiners are still trying to determine the cause of the death. those findings will be a key exhibit in the lawsuit.