2 men accused of storming OHA offices could face felony charges

2 men accused of storming OHA offices could face felony charges
(Graphic: Hawaii News Now/State Attorney General's Office)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two men arrested in connection with a violent takeover at the Office Of Hawaiian Affairs in January have been released pending investigation.

But they still could face felony charges.

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

State deputy sheriffs arrested Kawika Smith and Remedio L.K. Dabaluz on Wednesday, and then released both pending further investigation.

Law enforcement sources told Hawaii News Now the men were arrested after showing up at the state Attorney General’s office downtown for a meeting at 11 a.m.

They were booked on a slew of charges, several of them felonies, stemming from the incident.

The charges included kidnapping, second-degree robbery, first-degree terroristic threatening, impersonating a law enforcement officer, extortion, second-degree assault, riot and illegal operation of a business.

In January, the two were among a group of men from the sovereignty group Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi that stormed OHA’s offices and allegedly assaulted two employees.

OHA employees said the men told them they were there to seize the agency.

The same day, Hawaii News Now spoke with members of Atooi and both Smith and Dabaluz were in that interview.

They didn’t speak, but the group’s spokesperson had no comment when asked if they had assaulted the employees.

Trisha Kehaulani Watson was one of several Native Hawaiian leaders who demanded justice after the incident. She called Wednesday’s arrests a step forward.

“I think it is a very important to send a message that this sort of behavior is never the proper course of action so I’m very pleased that we now see the state taking more appropriate action to respond to what occurred,” she said.

Previously, HPD had arrested five men ― including Dabaluz ― for misdemeanor assault and harassment. Police Chief Susan Ballard subsequently said she asked the attorney general to look at the case. Native Hawaiians expressed concern at the time that charges were not harsh enough.

Meanwhile, sources say more arrests may be coming.

Watson says she hopes now that the case is with the state attorney general, the OHA employees who were truly afraid can find closure.

OHA had no comment on the arrests. Hawaii News Now reached out to the self-proclaimed leader of Atooi, but did not hear back.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.