The Hawaii County Police Commission on Friday delayed a decision on a woman’s complaint that officers physically and mentally injured her when she was arrested during the Oct. 25 eviction of Abel Lui and others from Kawa Bay in Ka‘u.
The commission heard the complaint filed in December by Kittrena Morgan, the lone person arrested during the early morning eviction of Lui and others undertaken by Hawaii Police Department officers and various Hawaii County officials. The eviction followed a state court ruling that Lui was illegally occupying the land at Kawa Bay.
Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said the commission opted to defer the matter to its next commission meeting, which will be held May 17 in Waimea. While the commission had a quorum with five members present, two were taking part in their first meeting. He also noted that additional information and investigation was needed.
Morgan was arrested and charged with simple trespassing and resisting arrest. According to 3rd Circuit Court records, Morgan pleaded not guilty to the charges on Jan. 24. She is slated to go on trial May 14 before Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra.
Morgan’s police commission complaint alleges that when officers executed the writ of possession and ejection, they caused her bodily injury and emotional distress. The complaint also notes her disagreement with her treatment following arrest.
The complaint differs slightly from the March 15 police commission agenda, which included an allegation that she was taunted and laughed at by police officers.
Morgan declined comment on the complaint on Friday. Both Morgan and Lui went before the commission during its executive session, which is closed to the public, including the media.
Sheriffs served Lui, Morgan and another person the county’s writ of possession just after 7 a.m. Oct. 25. The three were given two hours to collect their personal belongings and vacate the property. Hawaii County officials said at the time that Morgan became emotional during the procedure and did not cooperate. She was arrested and later charged.
Hawaii County purchased a 234-acre parcel at Kawa from the Edmund Olson Trust in January 2008. In February 2011, the county filed a complaint to get full possession of that land, while the trust filed a similar petition for two parcels it intended to sell to the county. The court granted those requests in June 2011, and the county purchased another 550 acres from the trust in November.
In other police department news, Maj. Randy Apele said police have quashed an apparent spike in burglaries in the Waiakea Uka and Pepeekeo areas of Hilo.
“Those have been addressed by our enforcement and investigative units, leading to the arrest of several persons, as well as the closure of some cases that have been referred to the prosecutor’s office for review,” Apele said. “Since then those crimes have subsided.”
Police also believe they’ve stopped a small burglary trend in the Volcano area where about eight burglaries were reported, Apele said, noting they’ve arrested one possible suspect in connection with a separate case.
“That trend has also subsided,” he said. “As usual, we realize that it is a small number of persons (causing) a majority of these problems.”
In West Hawaii, Apele said Kona has seen an increase in liquor and park hour violations in the Kailua-Kona area. Community policing, patrol and plain-clothed units are addressing the issues.
In the realm of traffic, Maj. Mitchell Kanehailua said there were 35 major traffic accidents islandwide during the month of March.
“Our continued efforts of the traffic enforcement unit will be the response,” he said.
As for personnel, police chief Harry Kubojiri said he expects to have an additional two dozen officers on the force by the end of July. A recruit class of 20 is currently doing on the job training with a field training officer and those officers will likely be on their own by July 16. Five additional officers, some of whom are transferring between agencies, are in an accelerated training program and will hit their beats by July 1.
Kubojiri also spoke to the commissioners about his request for additional personnel in the 2013-14 budget currently before the Hawaii County Council. He attributed the need to an increase in calls for service.