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Taser Not a Factor in Hatori’s Death, Autopsy Shows

April 15, 2014, 11:18 AM HST
* Updated April 15, 3:10 PM
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Big Island police said today additional testing done on a Kona man who died while being arrested earlier this year indicated he had suffered cardio-respiratory arrest.

The information was part of an autopsy conducted on 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona, who died Feb. 4 while being placed into police custody.

Citing information from Dr. Lindsey Harle, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, police said the death was the result of the combined effects of high levels of methamphetamine in Hatori’s blood, an enlarged heart and the physical struggle that occurred during his Feb. 4 arrest.

According to Harle, the stress of those three factors likely caused a cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, which led to his death.

Harle reported that the autopsy showed minor injuries to Hatori’s body and that the use of an electronic control device known as a Taser on Hatori “did not play a role in his death,” police said in a press release.

Hatori was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by police at 12:30 a.m. at the Tesoro gas station in the Kona Coast Shopping Center.

Hatori, who police said was wanted for assault and violating restraining orders, ran from the car across the street toward the Lanihau Center with an officer in pursuit.

Police said the officer was initially unable to restrain the 5-foot-9 and 250-pound Hatori and used his Taser stun gun in an unsuccessful attempt to subdue him. Other officers arriving at the scene assisted in restraining Hatori.

Hatori became unresponsive after being placed in handcuffs.

Fire department paramedics attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate Hatori, and he was transported to Kona Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m.

According to police, 7.3 grams of methamphetamine was recovered at the scene of the struggle.

Police had said an autopsy conducted on Hatori two days after his death was inconclusive and required additional toxicology and other testing as well as review of Hatori’s medical history.

Lt. Gerald Wike of the Kona Criminal Investigations Section today declined to reveal whether the Taser was used more than once on Hatori.

He said no “choke” hold was used on Hatori. Wike said such holds, which restrict the flow of the carotid artery to the brain which results in unconsciousness, are not used by the Hawaii Police Department during arrests.

Wike said he did not know whether the department’s internal investigation had been completed. Such investigations are a standard procedure in any death involving police.

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