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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Jail Assault: Guards, Inmates Sentenced to Spend More Time Together
By News Release @ 11:12 PM :: 1690 Views :: Law Enforcement

Former Correctional Officer Sentenced for Assaulting a Hawaii Inmate

News Release from U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Hawaii, Wednesday, December 7, 2022

A former correctional officer at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison for his role in the assault of an inmate and his participation in a multi-year conspiracy to cover-up the abuse.   

According to court documents and evidence introduced at trial, on June 15, 2015, Jason Tagaloa, 31, joined his two co-defendants and a third correctional officer while they transported an inmate across the facility. The inmate became frightened in the course of the transfer, and Tagaloa took the non-violent inmate to the ground, where he and his co-defendants repeatedly punched and kicked the inmate in the face, head and body. The inmate’s jaw, orbital socket and nose were broken in the course of the assault. In the months and years that followed, Tagaloa participated in a cover-up conspiracy that included writing false reports, submitting false statements to internal affairs and providing false testimony to disciplinary board members.  

“The defendant abused his authority and violently assaulted and injured an inmate without justification,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence makes clear that no one is above the law, and that when corrections officials violate the civil rights of people held in our jails and prisons they will be held accountable.”

“As a correctional officer, Tagaloa accepted responsibility for ensuring the safe incarceration of inmates,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors for the District of Hawaii. “When he instead participated in the brutal assault of an inmate, he violated the inmate’s civil rights and then sought to cover it up. Our office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who engage in such criminal conduct.”

“The law applies to everyone equally,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill of the FBI Honolulu Field Office. “This case shows those who work in positions of public trust are held to the same standard as the general public. All misconduct allegations are investigated thoroughly and fairly by the FBI.”

Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Connors, Assistant Director Luis Quesada for the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Special Agent in Charge Merrill made the announcement.

The FBI investigated the case.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan of the District of Hawaii, Special Litigation Counsel Chris Perras, and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division’s  Criminal Section prosecuted the case.

  *   *   *   *   * 

Federal Inmate Receives Seven More Years in Prison for Assaulting Correctional Officers

News Release from U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Hawaii, Wednesday, December 7, 2022

HONOLULU – U.S. District Court Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi sentenced David Akui-Cabanilla, III, 37, yesterday to 84 months of imprisonment for assaulting two federal officers at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu on March 23, 2020, while Akui-Cabanilla was detained prior to trial on a separate federal charge for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Judge Kobayashi ordered the 84-month sentence be served consecutive to a 34-month sentence she imposed on March 8, 2022, for Akui-Cabanilla’s firearm conviction.

Court documents detailed the nature of the assaults as the correctional officers were engaged in their official duties. In preparation for his attacks, the defendant 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. Akui-Cabanilla beat Correctional Officer D.M. unconscious with the locked metal padlock. He took the officer’s Bureau of Prisons-issued keys and his pepper spray in an apparent escape attempt. When other correctional officers, including Officer D.C., confronted Akui-Cabanilla, he sprayed Officer D.C. and other officers in the face with pepper spray. He then punched Officer D.C. in the head knocking him down to the ground.

Multiple officers suffered injuries requiring medical attention and ongoing physical therapy treatment. As part of this sentence, Judge Kobayashi ordered Akui-Cabanilla to pay $24,508.92 in restitution for medical bills paid by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.

“While we have recently prosecuted a few correctional officers for violating the civil rights of an inmate, other correctional officers are lawfully protecting our community from incarcerated inmates,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors. “This was nothing short of a vicious, premeditated attack on several of those correctional officers, and such conduct warrants the additional imprisonment imposed.”

"Violence against law enforcement officers is absolutely unacceptable," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. "The FBI takes this brutality very seriously and is committed to aggressively investigating such heinous crime."

This conviction is the result of an FBI investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mohammad Khatib is prosecuting the case.

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