Police on Wednesday said a conducted electronic weapon, commonly referred to as a Taser, was used in an attempt to subdue 39-year-old Kailua-Kona resident Randall Hatori, who died Tuesday in police custody.
An autopsy was conducted Wednesday. According to the Hawaii County Police Department, the medical examiner deferred the cause of Hatori’s death pending toxicology and histology results.
At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, a Kona patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station on Palani Road, according to police. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.
Hatori, a passenger in the vehicle who was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders, fled on foot, according to police.
The officer pursued Hatori on foot across Palani Road where a struggle ensued while the officer tried to apprehend him. Initially unable to restrain Hatori, the officer deployed his conducted electric weapon in an attempt to subdue him, according to police.
Hatori continued to actively resist arrest and the struggle continued. Other officers responded to the scene and assisted in restraining Hatori, according to police. After Hatori was placed in handcuffs, he became unresponsive.
Hawaii County Fire Department personnel attempted resuscitation of Hatori and then transported him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m., according to police.
Detectives reportedly recovered 7.3 grams of methamphetamine at the scene of the struggle, according to police.
The department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident as a coroner’s inquest and an assault on a police officer.
In addition, the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation, as is standard practice in any police involved death.
Alvarez remains at the Kona police cellblock while police investigate possible drug charges.