pleads guilty in
David Chun faces up to
10 years in prison for his role
in beating a prisoner
'Code of Silence' alive and realBy Susan Kreifels
A Honolulu police officer who resigned from the force Tuesday has pleaded guilty to charges that he beat an arrested man in police custody and then conspired with other officers to cover up the beating.
Officer David Chun, 31, faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a U.S. Department of Justice release said.
Chun, who changed his plea yesterday, did not comment after the hearing before U.S. District Judge Alan Kay.
Four other officers in the Honolulu Police Department pleaded not guilty in the alleged beating and cover-up, including filing a false report. The four are awaiting trial.
Chun said in a statement last month he would not name names or report other officers' conduct to improve his own circumstances because to "hurt people who I know and work with in order to save myself is to me inhuman and indecent and dishonorable."
Kay will sentence Chun at 3 p.m. Nov. 8. Chun is free on a $10,000 signature bond and will surrender at the time of the sentencing.
Chun is the second officer to plead guilty to charges stemming from the 1995 incident. William Duarte pleaded guilty June 3 to two misdemeanor counts of conspiring to violate Doolin's civil rights and was not named in the indictment. He will be sentenced Nov. 19.
Chun pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy, deprivation of rights and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Aug. 5, 1995, beating of Richard Doolin. Chun and the other officers were indicted in June.
Pallett said Chun had 12 years of public service: six in the military and six as a police officer, all with "exemplary" performance. "I'm confident he will find some how to be of service to the community," Pallett said, adding that Chun will be isolated from other prisoners because he is an officer.
When asked why the beating occurred, Pallet said he couldn't comment. "I'm sure David considers this a mistake," Pallett said. "He's taking responsibility and shouldering the burden."
Pallett didn't answer questions about why Chun was not cooperating with federal investigators.
Five officers in uniform sat through the hearing but did not comment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheryl Robinson also did not comment after the hearing.
The indictment alleged that Chun and the other officers kicked and hit Doolin after he was arrested for violating a restraining order involving his wife, then transferred to the Central Receiving Division from the Pearl City station. Robinson told Kay that Doolin, a suspended Halawa corrections officer, did nothing to justify the beating.
The indictment alleged that Sgt. George DeRamos, acting lieutenant at the time, warned Doolin the next day that if he told hospital officials how he was injured, he would be beaten again. De-Ramos is also accused of ordering another officer to tell hospital personnel Doolin's injuries -- three broken ribs and a collapsed lung -- were caused by a fall in the parking lot.
Other officers named in the indictment beside Chun and DeRamos were A.C. Brown, Brian Punzal and Jesse Nozawa.
Code of silence among policeBy Jaymes K. Song
officers alive and real
The code of silence not only exists, it works.
The code, an unwritten rule of conduct that discourages police officers from testifying against fellow officers, comes into play whenever charges of misconduct surface.
"It's prevalent," said attorney Dan Foley, who represents Richard Doolin. He is the man allegedly beaten by Honolulu police officers in August 1995.
Officer Dave Chun, one of five HPD officers charged with either beating Doolin, conspiring to cover it up or both, yesterday entered a guilty plea to the charges. The four others have pleaded not guilty. Chun said he will not name names or report other officers' conduct to improve his circumstances.
With the code of silence, "essentially what you have is, it's a police officer's duty to back their colleague up," said Foley. "To a certain extent, it's good. You assist one in the field, defend a buddy. It's their duty when confronting danger or attacked.
"When it's not good is when you feel you have to file a false police report to protect a colleague."
Officer William Duarte, a sixth officer in the case who has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor accounts of conspiring to violate Doolin's civil rights, has said through his attorney that he tried to stop the attack on Doolin. But he said he eventually went along with other officers to cover up the beating by making false statements during an internal investigation.
"The pressure of the code of silence that is prevalent throughout law enforcement was simply too great," Duarte said in a statement.
The code is not something the department teaches or encourages, said Sgt. Richard Wheeler, a veteran of 20 years. It is something the individuals have adopted over the years, and it's a personal choice whether to abide by it.
"Anyone would admit it's there, but it's up to the individual where they want to go with it," said Wheeler. "If I feel strongly about something, then I'll talk about it. If I don't, then I won't.
"Dave Chun accepts responsibility for his own actions and chooses to talk about nothing (other) than his own involvement," Wheeler said. "It's not whether I agree or not. But in a sense, I have to admire him for being willing to take the consequences and saying he did wrong."
Foley said that because of "the code" and without strong evidence, it's hard to create a case against police accused of misconduct.
"Quite often it (the code) works," Foley said.
Wheeler, the police union's Oahu chairman, said all workplaces have a code of some sort.
The code might be stronger in police work because officers depend on one another in life-and-death situations, Wheeler said, adding that he does not want to justify its existence.
But, Wheeler said, "Two accountants don't depend on each other for their lives. Two police officers do."