Big Island police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 39-year-old Kona man who died in police custody.
At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road.
The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.
His passenger, 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona—who was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders—fled on foot.
The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. During the struggle, the officer sustained injuries. Other officers responded to the scene. After Hatori was in police custody at the scene, he became unresponsive. Fire Department personnel arrived and took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 2 a.m.
The officer required treatment for his injuries at Kona Community Hospital.
Alvarez was taken to the Kona police cellblock. In addition to the contempt charge, he was arrested on suspicion of promoting a dangerous drug. He remains at the cellblock while detectives continue that investigation.
Police have initiated a corner’s inquest investigation in connection with Hatori’s death. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
As is standard practice in any police involved death, the Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.