Man alleges police brutality, plans to file suit

Published: Apr. 22, 2011 at 10:16 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:51 AM HST
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Photos of Justin Kaawa
Photos of Justin Kaawa
A cast on Kaawa's hand
A cast on Kaawa's hand
Justin Kaawa
Justin Kaawa
Michael Green
Michael Green

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Photos show abrasions on Justin Kaawa's face. He still has a cast on his right arm while his fractured hand heals.

Kaawa claims he got the injury from an off-duty police officer last week Tuesday night near the Makakilo onramp to the H-1 Freeway.

"He drags me out of the car. And the other officer that was behind him assists him, brings me to the back of my car, throws me to the ground," Kaawa said.

The young Waipahu man contends the incident began when he and his fiancee were driving home, and an unmarked car tailgated them and flashed its high beams.

He didn't know it was a police officer, until a marked police car showed up. That's when he finally pulled over. The off-duty officer got out of the unmarked car.

"I immediately put my hands behind my back, and I'm telling them I'm not resisting arrest," said Kaawa. "I don't know what's going on, why'd you pull me over? And they handcuff me."

His attorney plans to file suit for a civil rights violation.

"For no apparent reason, an off-duty officer was on his way to work, recognized someone he had seen before, and stopped him with assistance from other HPD officers, and beat the hell out of him," said attorney Michael Green, explaining his take on the incident.

"He continues to punch me on the back of my head, he maces me in the face again, and after that, he slams my head onto the asphalt. Grinds my face into the asphalt," Kaawa said.

Kaawa was hospitalized for two days at Hawaii Medical Center West, where he was guarded by police officers.

"Thursday evening while I was being hospitalized, a detective comes and he tells me that I was being charged with two counts of assault on a police officer. And I'm wondering, how did I do that? I mean, immediately I was handcuffed and dragged out of my vehicle. At what point did I hit anybody?" said Kaawa.

Kaawa also alleged that the same officer also harassed his family last July during a picnic at a Leeward Oahu beach park. He believed that the officer, whose name we are not disclosing, has it in for him.

Honolulu Police officials had no immediate comment on the case, but said Kaawa was originally arrested on suspicion of two counts of assault on a police officer.

"He's been released pending investigation, and my guess is as soon as we file, they'll arrest him and charge him with some criminal offense," Green said. Kaawa is not currently charged with any crime.

Green is not saying how much money they will seek in a lawsuit.

"I want justice," Kaawa said. "I don't believe this guy deserves to wear the shield."

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