Police abuse suit heads to fed court


A lawsuit alleging police used excessive force against a 25-year-old Mountain View man in the Hilo cellblock after a drunken driving arrest has been moved to federal court in Honolulu.

The civil suit by John Tredre against the county and three police officers — Sgt. Darryel Tolentino and Officers Keith Nacis and Crystal Kekela — was filed Aug. 4 in Hilo Circuit Court. It was moved on Oct. 18 to U.S. District Court in Honolulu at the request of the county, according to Deputy Corporation Counsel Michael Udovic.

“It’s our common practice in the county to refer those cases to federal court,” Udovic said.

The reason for removal, Udovic said, was the allegation of excessive force, which falls under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit alleges that after Tredre was arrested May 30, 2012, he called his mother to bail him out of jail. When she said she couldn’t, officers laughed at him. Then Tredre “swore at the officers.”

Two officers, later identified as Tolentino and Nacis, entered the room Tredre was in. The suit claims Nacis removed Tredre’s handcuffs, and Tolentino grabbed Tredre’s ponytail and threw him to the ground, yelled obscenities, kicked him in the side and slapped him on the head.

The suit accuses Nacis and Kekela of failing to prevent the alleged abuse.

The police Administrative Review Board found cause to uphold a portion of a misconduct complaint against Tolentino and Hawaii Police Chief Harry Kubojiri agreed with the panel’s findings. Neither Nacis nor Kekela was disciplined.

A scheduling conference is set for Dec. 6 before Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.