Police deny teen’s claim of officer mistreatment at wind farm protest

Updated: Oct. 24, 2019 at 5:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police are vehemently denying a teen’s claims that an officer punched and tased him before his arrest Sunday at a protest of a planned Kahuku wind farm.

Stetson Duke Morales, who goes by the nickname “Mana,” alleges he was mistreated by officers Sunday night after he attached himself to a cattle gate in Kalaeloa as part of the wind farm protests.

While he was chained, the 19-year-old alleges a police officer punched and tased him.

#LIVE: Police are denying a teen's allegations that he was tased and punched by an officer during his arrest at a protest of the controversial Kahuku wind farm. MORE: https://bit.ly/31J6yH6 #HINews #HNN

Posted by Hawaii News Now on Thursday, October 24, 2019

Those are claims the Honolulu Police Department is forcefully disputing.

HPD said officers who arrested scores at wind farm protests in Kahuku (where the project is being built) and Kalaeloa (where equipment for giant wind turbines is stored) weren’t even carrying tasers.

Acting Police Chief John McCarthy also said at a news conference Thursday that tasers capture data every time they’re used, and no data was captured during Morales’ arrest.

At the news conference, police released video of Morales’ arrest Sunday.

The video showed officers talking to Morales as he was chained to the cattle guard, and then covering his head with a blanket while they worked to free him.

“You can see from the video he clearly was not injured,” McCarthy said. “The taser would leave video evidence. There was no taser used at any time.”

He added that Morales was taken to the hospital after the Sunday arrest, but for a pre-existing condition.

“If he got punched like he says he did, if he got tased like he says he did, he would have some kind of injury,” McCarthy said.

HNN was at the protest Sunday, but a police truck was blocking the view of Morales’ arrest.

Interviewed Thursday, Morales repeatedly said he is telling the truth. “I was raised right by my mother to always tell the truth,” he said.

He said the officer who he claims mistreated him held the taser up to his side “and pulled the trigger.” When asked to describe the experience, he said, “I don’t know, it makes your body tight and tense.”

Morales also said the taser left a mark and bruises on his skin, but he refused to show them to a reporter. “I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable,” he said.

Morales has been arrested in the wind farm protests twice ― on Sunday and again on Monday.

During both of those arrests, he was 18 but has since celebrated a birthday.

Bizarrely, when HNN interviewed Morales earlier this week, he didn’t mention the alleged mistreatment and said he had “so much respect” for the police officers.

“I understand a lot of them don’t like to arrest their own people,” he said.

The claims come as protests of the wind farm continue nightly.

At least 111 protesters have been arrested as they try to stop construction equipment from getting to the planned wind farm site in Kahuku.

This story will be updated.

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