Feds convict former HCCC guards for beating of inmate

On July 8, after a three-week trial, a federal jury convicted three former guards at Hawaii Community Correctional Center of Hilo — Jason Tagaloa, 31, Craig Pinkney, 38, and Jonathan Taum, 50 — for assaulting an inmate in violation of his civil rights and for obstructing justice in attempting to cover up the violation. A fourth officer, Jordan DeMattos, previously pleaded guilty for his role in the assault and cover up, and testified for the government at trial.

After the jury’s verdict, Judge Leslie Kobayashi ordered the U.S. Marshals to take the defendants into custody pending their sentencing hearings.


The evidence at trial established that the defendants assaulted the inmate, Chawn Kaili, in the prison’s recreation yard. Over the course of two minutes, the defendants punched and kicked the inmate in the head and body while he was lying face-down in a pool of his own blood. Kaili suffered a broken nose, jaw and eye socket.

After the beating, the defendants wrote false reports in which they omitted almost all of the force they had used. When the prison opened an investigation, the defendants met to get their stories straight and brainstorm false excuses they would give for having used force. Ultimately, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety fired all four officers.

“These defendants abused the trust given to them as law enforcement officers when they violently assaulted an inmate and lied to cover it up,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The maximum penalties for the charged crimes are 10 years of imprisonment for the deprivation-of-rights offense, 20 years of imprisonment for the false report offenses and five years of imprisonment for the conspiracy offense.

See Tuesday’s Tribune-Herald for a complete story.

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