By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Police Chief Harry Kubojiri has disciplined a Hilo Patrol Division sergeant for misconduct over an incident that took place in the Hilo police cellblock on May 31 last year, according to a letter to the complainant.
The chief’s letter dated Feb. 20 to John Tredre states in part that the department’s “Administrative Review Board found that there was sufficient evidence to sustain a portion of the charges of misconduct against the officer,” who was identified in the letter as Sgt. Darryel Tolentino. “I concur with the findings of the Administrative Review Board,” Kubojiri wrote, adding, “The officer has received appropriate discipline. Section 92F-14 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes prohibits the police department from disclosing the disciplinary action taken.”
The letter doesn’t specify what Tolentino’s misconduct was, but Tredre, who was arrested, charged and convicted for drunken driving, said that Tolentino grabbed him by the hair and pulled him to the floor, kicked him in the side, slapped him to the back of his head, stripped him to his underwear and left him half-naked overnight in a holding cell. The letter also didn’t state the evidence the review panel used in their investigation, but the cellblock is equipped with video surveillance cameras.
Tredre, 24, of Mountain View, told the Tribune-Herald that he had been celebrating his birthday and drinking with friends on May 30, and he was returning his friends, who were from Oahu, to their Banyan Drive hotel when he was pulled over for driving with his headlights off, which led to the DUI charge.
Tredre doesn’t dispute that he was driving while intoxicated, but said the real trouble started later at the cellblock, and that Tolentino and two other officers were involved. The Tribune-Herald has chosen not to name the other officers, as the department’s internal investigation didn’t find any misconduct on their part.
“I got my phone call and called my mom to come and bail me out, and she didn’t, and then they all started laughing, and I got mad and I stood up and swore at them,” Tredre said. “Then I saw everybody getting up and coming to my room. The one cop (Tolentino) took the handcuff off of my hand and pulled my hair down to the ground and started to kick me in the side. He pulled me backwards by my hair and then kicked me, not really a kick, he jabbed me in the side with his boot. Then he stood me up in the corner and searched me and they took off all my clothes until I had just my boxers. Then they walked me out of the room and the cop slapped me in the back of my head and I fell down. Then he yanked me up by my hair in my handcuffs and he took me back to my room and then they locked me in the room with no clothes.
“I was just in my boxers. When he took my clothes, he broke the zipper on my jacket. Then a guy came in the morning and asked me why they took my clothes. They gave them back in the morning.”
Tredre said that Tolentino told him “not to f-in’ disrepect his officers” during the incident.
Tredre’s mother, Kimberly Thomley, said that her son underwent surgery at age 3 for medulloblastoma, a brain cancer more common in children than adults. Part of his skull had been removed, she said, and a scar is visible running from the base of his skull down the back of his neck.
“He threw up the whole court appearance,” which took place the following day, Thomley said. “I was the one listening to the judge. He had his head in the trash can.”
“Trauma to a medulloblastoma surgery can cause uncontrollable vomiting,” she said. Tredre said that he had drunk “about seven” 12-ounce bottles of Mickey’s malt liquor the previous night, but believes the vomiting was caused by being slapped to the head, not by alcohol consumption.
Tredre pleaded no contest to the DUI charge. He was fined $350 plus fees, his license was suspended for a year and he was ordered to undergo substance abuse counseling. He said he has not taken a drink, nor has he driven, since.
He said he believes force was used against him “because I’m a skinny haole.”
“I’m from here; I was raised here,” Tredre said. “If I was a big Hawaiian guy, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Tredre concedes that he shouldn’t have cursed at the officers, but said that doesn’t excuse the abuse he was subjected to.
“It wasn’t fair,” he said. “I was just drunk driving. I wasn’t that drunk, either. I didn’t hate at them. I just swore at ‘em because they laughed at me. And I didn’t resist.”
The Tribune-Herald made two calls to Kubojiri on Friday, but neither was returned by press time.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.