Wrong-house bust brings suit
A Kauai couple claims they were manhandled in their home by officers looking for marijuana
OMAO, Kauai » Two Kauai police officers were sued in federal court yesterday for allegedly slamming two grandparents to the ground and putting guns to their head after wrongly suspecting they were marijuana dealers.
Officers Scott Kaui and Damien M. Mendiola, as well as Kauai County, are named as defendants in the suit brought by Sharon and William McCulley of Omao alleging violations of their constitutional rights, assault and infliction of emotional distress among others.
The police officers were tracking a box allegedly containing marijuana mailed from the mainland, and broke into the McCulleys' house March 15 because they thought the couple, who were at home watching their grandchildren, had the box, according to the suit.
The box was picked up at a Kauai post office by a man in a Toyota truck. Police followed a truck to a private road used as a driveway by seven houses, the suit says.
Police entered the McCulley residence, thinking the McCulleys were holding the box.
According to the lawsuit, Mendiola grabbed Sharon McCulley and threw her to the ground, handcuffed her and pressed his gun into her head, leaving a mark, while her grandchild was forced to lie near her.
William McCulley, meanwhile, was thrown to the floor by Kaui, the suit alleges. McCulley, who suffers a nerve disorder and has an implanted electronic "shocking device" to his spine to alleviate pain, started flopping on the floor due to the shocks created by being thrown to the floor. He walks with the aid of a walker.
Police, who said in earlier reports that the box contained 11 pounds of pakalolo, detained but eventually released the McCulleys.*
Police also searched another house without finding the box. Those people have made claims against the county but have yet to file a lawsuit. Police then went to a third house, where they found those with the box.
Three men were arrested at the third house. David Hibbit is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty last month to first-degree promotion of marijuana.
The two others, Nathan Prather and Jay Robertson, managing director of Kauai's public-access television station, have pleaded guilty to petty misdemeanor marijuana possession charges.
Friday, January 13, 2006
» William and Sharon McCulley were not arrested March 15, but were detained by police and released. An Page A3 article yesterday about the McCulleys' lawsuit alleging that they were mistreated when mistakenly suspected of being marijuana dealers incorrectly reported that they had been arrested.