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The medical examiner says there is no sign Honolulu Police caused a man’s death while he was being arrested.
It’s little consolation for the family of Stephen Dinnan. The family is moving ahead with plans to file a lawsuit.
Following a confrontation with police, Dinnan died Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. after being removed from life support.
A preliminary autopsy by the Honolulu Medical Examiner indicates there were “no assaultive-type injuries.”
His family feels otherwise and has retained attorney William Harrison to represent them in court. Two sides to the story will eventually emerge.
“Clearly, there was an excessive use of force in this case,” Harrison said. “The police approached him, he went to place his baby down which was in his arms and then they tackled him.”
The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, also known as SHOPO, will not be involved in any legal case regarding Dinnan’s death. On Wednesday, they passed along condolences to the suspect’s family.
“If you’re not guilty, why are you struggling? Why are you trying to escape? And it’s unfortunate how the officer would have to answer but knowing the officer myself personally, he’s a veteran and he’s a great officer,” SHOPO President Tenari Maafala said.
Maafala emphasized that officers were called to the scene.
“The victim was there. The victim of the stolen truck was there. So, he will definitely be a witness to the whole situation first hand,” Maafala said.
According to Dinnan’s girlfriend, doctors said there were signs of strangulation.
So, did police put him in a choke hold?
“And that’s part of the use of force that we’re trained to use. It’s not to cause death in any way but in the event that a suspect is so combative that on an instinctive reaction, a police officer would use force that would be one of the use of force,” Maafala said.
The so-called choke hold has been prohibited in a number of cities and states.
“That’s not the case here and they should outlaw that. It’s a very dangerous procedure. And if you’re going to utilize that procedure, then you should make sure that the person you’re using it on is breathing,” Harrison said.
Dinnan had no previous criminal record but police did say they found drugs on him during the arrest.