Wednesday, June 23, 1999

Cop to change
plea in beating

David Chun accepts responsibility
for his actions but will not finger
other officers to get a better deal

By Debra Barayuga


One of five Honolulu police officers who pleaded not guilty to beating a prisoner in 1995 and conspiring to cover it up plans to change his plea.

Attorney James Pallett said Officer David Chun, 31, accepts responsibility for his actions and will change his plea. But Chun will not name names or report other officers' conduct to improve his circumstances.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Five Honolulu police officers appeared in federal court
yesterday, pleading not guilty to charges that they beat a
prisoner in 1995 and then conspired to cover it up. Pictured
outside the courthouse are, clockwise from top left, David
Chun, Jesse Nozawa, George DeRamos and A.C. Brown.
Not shown is officer Brian Punzal. Trial for the five was set
for Aug. 24 before Judge Alan C. Kay. Each of the officers
posted a $10,000 signature bond after the arraignment. All
are free pending trial. Although not all five participated in the
beating, all conspired to cover it up, according to the
federal indictment.

"I take full responsibility for my own actions, but to hurt people who I know and work with in order to save myself is to me inhuman and indecent and dishonorable," Chun said in a written statement. Chun, currently assigned to the Central Honolulu district, has been with the department for six years.

Attorney Howard Luke said Brian Punzal was on duty as acting sergeant at the receiving desk when Richard Doolin, a state prison guard, was brought in but had nothing to do with the beating.

"We intend to fight these charges," said Luke.

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.

Also pleading not guilty yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren to felony conspiracy, civil rights violations and obstruction of justice in the beating of Doolin at the main police station on Aug. 5, 1995, were:

Bullet A.C. Brown, 39, with HPD for six years and currently assigned to the Pearl City district.
Bullet Punzal, 40, with HPD for six years and currently assigned as a bike officer in the Traffic Division.
Bullet Sgt. George DeRamos, 45, with HPD for 23 years, and assigned to the Traffic Division.
Bullet Nozawa, 29, with HPD for five years and currently assigned to the Kailua-Kaneohe district.

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. All are free pending trial.

Each faces 10 years in prison if convicted, along with termination as police officers.

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

Brown, Chun and Nozawa and "others known to the grand jury" are charged with striking, kicking and assaulting Doolin and later attributing his injuries to a fall in the parking lot.

Doolin suffered three broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

An unnamed officer at the Pearl City station allegedly had asked Punzal to "take care of" the unruly Doolin, since Pearl City officers already were the subject of an FBI investigation over civil rights violations. Doolin was being transported from the Pearl City station for routine processing after being arrested on four drug offenses, said his attorney, Earle Partington.

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. DeRamos is also accused of ordering another officer to tell hospital personnel Doolin's injuries were caused by a fall.

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

Attorneys for George DeRamos and Mary Wilkowski had no comment.

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

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

Doolin, a suspended Halawa corrections officer, filed suit against the city and county over the beating, later settling for $300,000. He is on supervised release pending trial on drug charges.

Officer is also
facing a 1996
beating suit

The lawsuit says the beating
contributed to the prisoner's death

Rod Ohira


One of five Honolulu police officers charged in the August 1995 beating of Richard Doolin is alleged to have assaulted another prisoner a year later.

Attorney Dan Foley, whose firm has filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of the estate of Robert Rapoza Jr., alleges that officer David Chun beat Rapoza with a broken broomstick on July 22, 1996, at the main police station cellblock.

Rapoza suffered a ruptured spleen from the beating, which contributed to his death in April 1998, Foley said.

Since his spleen had to be removed, Rapoza couldn't fight an infection that led to his death, according to Foley.

The suit filed by Foley alleges Rapoza was repeatedly punched and hit with a wooden stick.

"At no time did Rapoza harass, threaten, resist arrest in any way, except in lawful self defense, or engage in any conduct which in any way justified the actions," the suit says.

The suit also alleges the city has, with "deliberate indifference," failed to sanction or discipline police officers for their conduct.

The Doolin incident is the second major civil rights violation case being prosecuted by the federal government involving Honolulu police officers.

Officer Joseph Alejado was convicted of violating the civil rights of Sam L. Tupuola and for obstructing justice in the 1995 Pearl City station beating cases.

Sgt. Clyde Hayami was convicted of three counts of felony civil rights violations in which two other officers -- Russell Won and Keith Flynn -- were also charged. Won and Flynn served lesser sentences and were later reinstated by the department.

"The impact in the Doolin and Pearl City cases are the federal indictments," Foley said. "The city prosecutor's office did nothing.

"If there had been no federal indictments, it would have been status quo."

On the local level, Foley believes the use of officers as witnesses in other criminal cases contributes to an "institutional problem" because some of them are guilty of lying and filing false reports in other matters.

"The City Council seems oblivious to the filing of false police reports," Foley said. "I don't think we've seen the last of the federal indictments."

U.S. Attorney Steven Alm said the prosecution of civil rights violations against police proves that "nobody's above the law."

"The police department can be a major player in sending the message that this will not be tolerated," Alm said.

"I know (Police Chief Lee Donohue) is holding himself and his commanders responsible and accountable toward attaining the department's constant goal of being more professional and accomplishing its mission statement (of fairness, respect and integrity)."

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