HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The autopsy of 35-year-old Stephen Dinnan shows the Kaneohe man choked to death after his arrest.
Hawaii News Now was the first to report that the Honolulu Medical Examiner had ruled his death a homicide, paving the way for potential criminal charges and a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
The ruling comes less than two months after the M.E. said Dinnan did not look like he had been assaulted.
"Stephen Dinnan died as a result of a homicide, not an accident, not suicide but homicide," said Myles Breiner, attorney for Dinnan's girlfriend.
According to the medical examiner, Dinnan suffered chest injuries after he was being pressed against the ground. The M.E. also said Dinnan suffered a severe injury to his neck.
"I want justice for Stephen because he didn't deserve to die. I still hold that it was a homicide," said Shardeah Serhant, Dinnan's girlfriend.
The arresting officer -- a 26-year veteran -- was initially placed on leave but has gone back to work.
A police investigation is pending but the FBI is conducting its own probe after Dinnan's family said police were biased.
Dinnan was arrested on June 3 as part of an investigation into a stolen truck. Police said he resisted arrest, resulting in an altercation.
But his family denies that he had any role in the alleged theft, saying he was a victim of mistaken identity.
Dinnan, who worked in construction, is a father of four children, including two with Serhant. Serhant said his loss has been tough on her family.
"It's really hard to tell a two-year-old that his daddy is not coming home. My son ... wakes up every day asking 'where's my daddy'," said Serhant.
The FBI's inquiries are still in the early stages but will likely pick up due to the M.E.'s findings.
"I understand they have interviewed a number of eye witnesses. They have interviewed family members," said Breiner.
Breiner says the medical examiner's report provides some hope that justice will be served.
"This is not an issue about compensation. It is not an issue of seeking revenge," Breiner said.
"The family needs closure and closure means someone has to be held accountable."