Suit: Big Island police violently arrested wrong man, tried to cover it up

(Image: Courtesy)
(Image: Courtesy)
(Image: Courtesy)
(Image: Courtesy)

HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Daniel Harris described the night two years ago when he was arrested by Hawaii County police officers.

"I thought they (were) going to kill me," said the 40-year-old Hilo resident.

Harris, a father of eight, is suing Hawaii County, alleging that Big Island police officers beat him and tried to cover it up during a wrongful arrest two years ago.

"They tased me. I went to the ground and they started stomping me. They maced me ... dragged me to the ground," he said.

"They rammed me through the door of the patrol car and split my eye open."

In the lawsuit, Harris' attorney Michael Green said that the Daniel Harris named in the search warrant was an older man who doesn't look anything like his client.

"They take him out of the hospital and book him and someone says that's the wrong guy. That's not the guy for the warrant. We got the wrong guy," said Green.

"Really, what are we going to do about him? The guy is all beat up. I got an idea. Let's charge him with DUI and resisting arrest."

Prosecutors later dropped those charges.

Green said federal authorities are now looking into the case for possible civil rights violations.

"There are other agencies that are absolutely looking at this. And they're going to meet with him and talk to him," Green said.

In his suit, Harris says he tried to file a complaint with the Big Island Police Commission. But he said a clerk at the commission office said that would be a bad idea.

"The message is don't subject yourself to further harm. Don't put yourself in a position where someone may want to retaliate against you," said Green.

Big Island police declined comment.

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