Friday, June 18, 1999

Five HPD officers
indicted in beating

The alleged victim is up
against 'the blue wall of
silence,' his lawyer says

By Rod Ohira


Police brutality cannot survive without the "blue wall of silence," a victim's attorney says of the beating and cover-up conspiracy alleged in a federal indictment against five Honolulu police officers.

"I think the indictments send two messages," attorney Earle Partington said. "One is, we cannot tolerate bad cops, and second, we can't afford to tolerate the blue wall of silence."

The indictments show that although not all of the five participated in the beating, they covered it up, he said.

Yesterday's four-count indictment charges officers A.C. Brown, David Chun, Jesse Nozawa and "others known to the grand jury" with striking, kicking and assaulting Richard Doolin at the Central Receiving Division on Aug. 5, 1995.

The indictment also charges the officers and their supervisors -- George DeRamos and Brian Punzal -- with conspiring to cover up the beating by filing false reports and giving false statements.

Officer William "Bill" Duarte, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of conspiring to violate Doolin's civil rights, issued a statement through his attorney, William Harrison.

Harrison said Duarte intervened to stop the beating, but "unfortunately, he went along with the other officers to cover up the beating by making false statements to the Honolulu Police Department's Internal Affairs Division."

Duarte said he regrets not having reported the crime.

"The pressure of the 'code of silence' that is prevalent throughout law enforcement was simply too great," Duarte said in his written statement. "That was wrong."

Police Chief Lee Donohue said the code of silence is a fact, but officers need to consider what is ethical.

"We do so much good
work, but something like this
just sets us back."

Lee Donohue


"Everything we do should be in concert with our mission statement of fairness, respect and integrity," Donohue said. "We have to live that as an organization."

The indicted officers were on the job yesterday but will be required to turn in their badges and firearms once they are served with court papers, Donohue said. They will be reassigned to desk duty while awaiting trial.

"I don't want these indictments to be an indictment against the department's 1,900 officers and 500 civilian employees," Donohue said. "We do so much good work, but something like this just sets us back."

Washington, D.C.-based Gerald Hogan, senior litigation counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and Sheryl Robinson will prosecute the case.

Steven Alm, U.S. attorney for Hawaii, has recused his office from participation because of a "potential conflict with one of the witnesses in the case," Hogan said without elaborating.

The indictment alleges that on Aug. 5, 1995, an unnamed officer from the Pearl City station asked Punzal, who was the acting sergeant at Central Receiving, "to take care of" an unruly prisoner identified as Doolin.

Punzal also was allegedly told that "Pearl City officers had been the subject of an FBI investigation and could not 'take care' of Doolin themselves."

Brown, Chun and Nozawa assaulted Doolin and falsely stated later that the prisoner suffered injuries when he fell on a berm in the parking lot, the indictment said.

DeRamos, the acting watch lieutenant, allegedly told Doolin on Aug. 6 that "if he told anyone at the hospital how he received his injuries, he would be beaten again."

DeRamos allegedly also ordered another officer to tell hospital personnel that Doolin's injuries were caused by a fall.

The indictment alleges that in 1995, between Aug. 6 and Dec. 31, Chun, Brown and others met at Kewalo Beach Park to discuss ways to cover up the assault and agreed to continue stating the injuries were caused by a fall.

If convicted, the officers could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Doolin, who worked as a Halawa prison guard, received a $300,000 out-of-court settlement from the city over the incident.

Doolin is on supervised release while awaiting trial for alleged drug offenses. Partington said Doolin is scheduled to enter a residential drug treatment program and that he will seek a continuance for the July 6 trial date.

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