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Federal Detention Center Detainee Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Officers

March 29, 2022, 9:37 AM HST
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A detainee at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu pleaded guilty in federal court to assaulting an officer, which resulted in bodily injury.

On Monday, March 28, 36-year-old David Akui-Cabanilla, III, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi where he pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting a federal officer resulting in bodily injury. Sentencing is scheduled for August.

According to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, Akui-Cabanilla admitted to assaulting multiple correctional officers on March 23, 2020, while he was a detainee at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu.

According to court documents and information presented to the court, in preparation for his attacks, Akui-Cabanilla, who was detained prior to trial on a separate federal charge for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, fashioned two makeshift weapons. The first weapon was a long tube sock tied to the loop of a locked metal padlock. The second weapon was a “shiv” formed from a razor blade with a piece of bedsheet tied around one end, simulating a handle.

A correctional officer was stationed in the office in Akui-Cabanilla’s housing unit when Akui-Cabanilla entered the office and struck him in the head with the locked metal padlock. Akui-Cabanilla took the officer’s Bureau of Prisons-issued keys and pepper spray. He left the office and ran toward the door
leading out of the housing unit, the release stated.

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As Akui-Cabanilla tried to unlock the door, other correctional officers opened it. Akui-Cabanilla sprayed multiple officers in the face with pepper spray.

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He then punched one of the correctional officers on the side of his head and face, knocking him down to the ground. The correctional officers struggled with AkuiCabanilla before finally subduing him.

The first correctional officer was discovered unconscious on the floor of the housing unit office. He and the area around him were covered in blood. Taken by emergency medical transport to Queens Medical Center, he sustained a concussion and other serious injuries that resulted in hospitalization for five days. After that, he underwent two weeks of physical therapy before being able to return to work.

The correctional officer whom Akui-Cabanilla punched in the head also received emergency medical treatment at Queens Medical Center on March 23.

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He subsequently underwent months of periodic physical therapy for his injuries.

“The FBI will not tolerate the assault of any federal officer especially while performing their official duties,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. “The FBI is committed to holding Mr. Akui-Cabanilla accountable for such an egregious act. We thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii for the additional prosecution.”

Each count of assaulting a federal officer resulting in bodily injury provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.

“This case illustrates the dangers correctional officers face each time they report for duty,” said United States Attorney Clare E. Connors. “We will investigate these types of unprovoked violent assaults against correctional officers and initiate additional prosecutions against culpable detainees.”

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