3 Former HCCC Correctional Officers Indicted For Assaulting an Inmate
Three former correctional officers at Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in assaulting an inmate and attempting to cover up their misconduct.
On June 10, Jason Tagaloa, 29, Craig Pinkney, 36 and 48-year-old Jonathan Taum were indicted on two counts of deprivation of rights under the color of law; conspiracy to obstruct justice, and three counts of obstruction by false report.
The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday. The incident occurred on June 15, 2015, according to the court document. Tagaloa, Pinkney, and Taum, along with a fourth correctional officer designated “Officer A,” physically assaulted an inmate in the jail’s recreation yard, that Tagaloa later assaulted the same inmate in a holding cell, and that both assaults resulted in bodily injury.
The indictment indicates that Tagaloa, Pinkney, Taum and Officer A held Inmate I pinned face-down on the ground of the Rec Yard, and punched, kneed and kicked the alleged victim in the face, head and body dozens of times.
The indictment further alleges that the defendants and Officer A conspired to cover up their misconduct by engaging in a variety of obstructive acts, including devising a false cover story to justify their use of force, documenting that false cover story in official reports and repeating that false cover story when questioned during the ensuing investigation and disciplinary proceedings arising out of the assault.
“Those committed to the custody of our state and federal detention facilities do not jettison their constitutional rights when they pass through the doors to those facilities. They are entitled to humane treatment, which includes constitutional safeguards, such as the right to be free of ‘cruel and unusual’
punishment while in custody,” said US Attorney Kenji M. Price. “Our communities entrust correctional officers to protect detention facilities and the inmates housed within them, and when such officers commit crimes within a detention facility, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Honolulu Special Agent in Charge Eli S. Miranda said the FBI’s Civil Rights Program dedicates a significant amount of its efforts to investigating police misconduct and other crimes committed by individuals exploiting their government-granted powers.
“Fortunately, the vast majority of public servants understand that they must both uphold and obey the law,” Miranda said. “The few who illegally manipulate others using their official capacity will be caught and tried like any other criminal. The FBI is committed to restoring trust in law enforcement by holding those who abuse their privileges and abandon their responsibilities accountable.”
The maximum penalties for the charged crimes are 10 years of imprisonment for each of the deprivation-of-rights offenses, 20 years of imprisonment for each of the false report offenses, and five years of imprisonment for the conspiracy offense.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Craig Nolan of the District of Hawaii is prosecuting the case in partnership with Special Litigation Counsel Christopher J. Perras and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division.