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Man dies in police custody

February 4, 2014 - 1:00pm

A 39-year-old Kailua-Kona man apparently died while in police custody early Tuesday in Kailua-Kona.

The Hawaii County Police Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Randall Hatori.

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, identified by police as Hatori, was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders. Hatori fled on foot, according to police.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot across Palani Road toward the Kailua-Kona Post Office and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. During the struggle, the officer suffered injuries. Other officers also responded to the scene. The post office remained cordoned off Tuesday morning.

After Hatori was in police custody at the scene, he became unresponsive, according to police. Hawaii County Fire Department personnel arrived and took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m.

The officer received treatment for his injuries at Kona Community Hospital, according to police. He has not been placed on leave.

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 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.