EXCLUSIVE: Former New Mexico police chief sues Maui Police

EXCLUSIVE: Former New Mexico police chief sues Maui Police
Published: Apr. 14, 2015 at 12:51 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 14, 2015 at 1:59 AM HST
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A former Mainland police chief said he was illegally arrested by Maui Police.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court today, Jason Griego, then chief of the Cuba, N.M. Police department, said he and James Sanchez, a former reserve officer with Cuba police, were held for hours in a filthy jail cell in July 2013. No charges were filed and the two men were never given an explanation for their arrest, the suit said.

"Maui police officers rousted them, dragged them outside (of their hotel rooms) and placed them under arrest," said attorney Eric Seitz.

"They were thrown in this cell in the middle of the night where there was urine and feces on the ground."

According to Seitz, the two men were on Maui with their family after completing a private security assignment for a mainland developer on the Valley Isle. They were staying at the Makena Beach Resort when they were arrested.

The lawsuit says that one Maui officer taunted a handcuffed Griego, asking him "how it feels to be a police chief in cuffs." The officer also told Griego that his bond would be so high he wouldn't be able to bail out, the suit said.

Seitz said he suspects that the two men were mistakenly arrested because they were carrying their firearms, which active duty officers are allowed to do.

"There was no illegality about that because of their credentials as police officers," he said.

He said Griego and Sanchez want to clear the arrest off of their records because "it affects their ability to carry guns in connection with their police work."

Seitz has sued Maui Police for alleged misconduct several times. He said his clients' experience underscores a lack of training at Maui PD.

"The Maui police are really backwards when it comes to police practices, the use of tasers and their interpretations of what their authorities are," said Seitz.

A Maui Police spokesman declined comment, saying he hasn't seen the lawsuit.

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