Police need pepper spray and use force to tackle UH football star
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police used pepper spray and force to subdue the University of Hawaii's star football player Tuesday morning, after a domestic violence call quickly turned into a scuffle with officers.
The arrests happened about 6 a.m. at a McCully Street apartment. They were released, pending investigation on Wednesday.
Sources said defensive tackle Kennedy Tulimasealii was naked when officers arrived at the unit in response to an abuse of a family member case.
The senior lineman began fighting with officers, sources said, and officers used pepper spray to try to subdue him. Other officers joined the struggle and took Tulimasealii to the ground as he tried to pull away, police said.
The officers reported that force was necessary because of Tulimasealii's size; he's 6 feet tall, weighs 220 pounds, and he's described as "muscular" in police documents.
A second UH defensive lineman, Kaaumoana Gifford, was also in the apartment and was yelling at the officers to let his teammate go.
Sources say Gifford pushed one of the officers. Gifford's girlfriend reportedly said that was a natural reaction for Gifford because he is a football player.
Tulimasealii was arrested and booked for abuse of a family member; he also has traffic warrants. Gifford was arrested for obstruction.
In a statement, UH football head Coach Nick Rolovich said the university is investigating the incident to determine next steps.
"We are now in the phase of information gathering and will the process as it pertains to the student-athlete handbook and University Code of Conduct. Collectively, we will make a decision at the appropriate time."
He added, "I also want to take this opportunity to say that when a student-athlete puts on a UH football uniform, they represent the team, the program, the university, the fans, and the entire state of Hawaii. We hold our players to high standards of conduct and we take that very seriously. They must not only understand that, but embrace it because it is a privilege to be a Rainbow Warrior and an honor to represent the school and the people of Hawaii."
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