Hawaii 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 in Kailua-Kona. 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 — ran, according to police.
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 taken into custody at the scene, he became unresponsive, police said. Fire Department personnel arrived and took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53. a.m.
The officer was treated and released 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 investigate.
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 Kona Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards — the internal affairs unit — will also conduct an administrative investigation.