Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Five HPD officers
arraigned in beating

The police officers, indicted for beating
a state prison guard in 1995, are also
charged in a cover-up attempt

By Debra Barayuga


Five Honolulu police officers indicted last week for beating a state prison guard in 1995 and conspiring to cover it up pleaded not guilty today in federal court.

The officers are:

Bullet A.C. Brown, 39, with the department for six years and currently assigned to Pearl City district.

Bullet Brian Punzal, 40, with the department for six years and currently assigned as a solo bike officer in the Traffic Division.

Bullet Sgt. George DeRamos, 45, with the department for 23 years, and currently assigned to the Traffic Division.

Bullet Jesse Nozawa, 29, with the department for five years and currently assigned to the Kailua-Kaneohe district.

Bullet David Chun, 31, with the department for six years and currently assigned to the Central Honolulu district.

U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren set their trial date for Aug. 24 before Judge Alan C. Kay. Each of the officers posted a $10,000 signature bond after the arraignment and is free pending trial.

The June 17 indictment charged officers Brown, Chun, Nozawa, DeRamos and Punzal with felony conspiracy, civil-rights violations and obstruction of justice in the beating of Richard Doolin at the Central Receiving Division on Aug. 5, 1995.

Each faces 10 years in prison if convicted.

Although not all five participated in the beating, all conspired to cover it up, according to the indictment.

Officers Brown, Chun and Nozawa and "others known to the grand jury" are charged with striking, kicking and assaulting Doolin and later attributing Doolin's injuries to falling on a berm in the parking lot.

An unnamed officer at the Pearl City station allegedly had asked Punzal to "take care of" the unruly Doolin since Pearl City officers already had been the subject of an FBI investigation into civil-rights violations.

DeRamos, acting lieutenant at the time, allegedly warned Doolin the next day that if he told hospital officials how he received his injuries, he would be beaten again. He is also accused of ordering another officer to tell hospital personnel Doolin's injuries were caused by a fall.

The indictment charged Chun, Brown and others met between Aug. 6 and Dec. 31, 1995, at Kewalo Beach Park to discuss ways to cover-up incident and stick to the story they had concocted.

Today, lawyers for two of the officers said their clients are not guilty of the charges and are going to trial to prove their innocence.

Punzal was on duty and acting sergeant at the receiving desk when Doolin was brought in had nothing to do with the beating, said his attorney Howard Luke.

Punzal, who testified before a federal grant jury in January, has an unblemished record as a police officer, Luke said. "We intend to fight these charges."

Brooke Hart, attorney for Jesse Nozawa, said his client was also on duty that night but "did not strike, kick, hit or break Doolin's ribs" as charged. "I expect him to go to trial."

Attorneys Pam Tower for DeRamos, David Pallett for Chun and Mary Wilkowski for Brown all had no comment.

All five officers have been assigned to desk duty pending resolution of the charges, a police spokeswoman said.

Another officer, William Duarte pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of conspiring to violate Doolin's civil rights and was not named in the indictment.

His attorney, William Harrison said Duarte did not participate in the beating but tried to stop it. In a written statement, Duarte said he did however make false statements to police Internal Affairs to cover up the incident, saying the pressure of the unwritten code of silence was too great.

Doolin, a Halawa corrections officers, settled out of court for $300,000 over the beating. He is on supervised release while awaiting trial on two drug offenses.

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