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HPD IDs Man Who Died While in Police Custody

March 25, 2021, 11:30 AM HST
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Hawai‘i Police have identified a man who died in custody on Saturday, March 20, as 29-year-old Charren Ornellas with a last known address in Hilo.

Police are awaiting toxicology and histology results of an autopsy conducted on Ornellas Wednesday, March 24.

As of today, March 25, a second man injured during this incident, an assisting relative, remains at Queen’s Medical Center on O‘ahu and has been upgraded to stable condition.

Saturday’s incident began at 11:20 a.m. when HPD’s Ka‘ū patrol received a report of a reckless driver operating a maroon-colored Scion. Officers made checks for the vehicle, but were unable to locate it.

At 11:57 a.m., a traffic accident was reported on Highway 11 in South Kona with the responsible vehicle being described as a maroon-colored Scion. The vehicle fled the scene headed northbound on Highway 11.

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Less than 10 minutes later, at 12:05 p.m., a witness reported a maroon-colored Scion on the northbound shoulder of Highway 11 and saw the male driver walking onto a property in the area. Shortly thereafter, dispatch received a call of a man attempting to break into a vehicle on the same property. When the male party, later identified as Ornellas, was contacted by the homeowners, he began causing damage to the residence.

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A relative of the residents, who lives in the area, arrived on scene to assist the homeowners. Upon contact with Ornellas a confrontation ensued in which a firearm was discharged. No injuries were reported in relation to the discharge. The confrontation then escalated into an assault where Ornellas was reported to be the aggressor.

Passers-by observed the relative being assaulted and stopped to assist and restrain Ornellas as police responded to the scene.

​​At 12:27 p.m., officers arrived on scene and requested medical attention for both Ornellas and the relative after observing injuries due to the assault. Ornellas was then taken into police custody from the by-standers and upon assessment by the officers, was determined to be unresponsive. Officers immediately began performing CPR on him until Hawai‘i Fire Department personnel arrived. Hawai‘i Fire Department personnel were unable to revive Ornellas and he was transported to Kona Community Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m.

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The relative was also transported to Kona Community Hospital where he was treated and transferred to Queen’s Medical Center on O‘ahu, in critical condition. He has since been upgraded to stable condition.

Police have initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation in connection with Ornellas’ death. Additional investigations are ongoing relative to the associated incidents.

Anyone with information regarding the incidents is encouraged to contact Detective Donovan Kohara at 808-326-4646 Ext. 238, or via email at [email protected] They may also contact the police department’s non-emergency number at 808-935-3311.

As is standard practice in any police-involved death, the police department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

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