WASHINGTON (KHON2) — A federal jury convicted three former correctional officers from the Hawaii Community Correctional Center on Friday, July 8 for “assaulting an inmate in violation of his civil rights and for obstructing justice in attempting to cover up the violation,” according to the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice identified the three officers as Jason Tagaloa, 31, Craig Pinkney, 38, and Jonathan Taum, 50.

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The department also pointed out that there was a fourth correctional officer, Jordan DeMattos, who “previously pleaded guilty for his role in the assault and cover-up.” DeMattos testified for the government at the three-week trial.

These defendants abused the trust given to them as law enforcement officers when they violently assaulted an inmate and lied to cover it up.


Clarke continued: “The Justice Department will prosecute corrections officials who violently assault inmates inside our jails and prisons, and abuse their official positions to cover up their crimes. We are committed to using our civil rights laws to ensure that the rights of all individuals, including those in custody, are fully protected.”

Video of the beating has been released as evidence. We want to warn you that some parts of the video are disturbing.

Surveillance video from the Hawaii Community Correctional Center shows the inmate being taken down at the recreation yard by one adult corrections officer. Three others join the scuffle and video shows the officers punching and kicking the inmate. At one point, one officer puts his knee against the inmate’s neck as he’s held down and more punches and kicks are thrown.

The incident took place in June 2015. Officials said the inmate was assaulted for two minutes. During that time officials the officers punched and kicked him in the head while he was lying face down in a pool of his own blood. The inmate suffered a broken nose, jaw and eye socket. ACLU Hawaii said this shows the need for more oversight in our prison system.

“People who have badges and authority need to be held accountable for their actions, and that it cannot be used as a shield. It can’t be used as a weapon, and they don’t just get a pass because they have this badge of authority,” said Carrie Ann Shirota, ACLU Hawaii policy director.

Shirota added that new ideas are needed in bail reform and incarceration.

Officials said after the beating the ACOs wrote false reports in which they omitted almost all the force they used. They also met to get their stories straight so they could lie to the investigators. The maximum penalty for filing a false report is 20 years in prison.

The Public Safety Department sent a statement saying, “Justice has been served as those involved were held accountable. The Department will not tolerate this type of behavior from any employee.”

This incident caused the Hawaii Department of Public Safety to fire all four officers.

“This prosecution and verdict affirm our office’s commitment to ensuring every person’s civil rights are protected under the law. We will continue to enforce those rights the Constitution and other federal laws provide.”


The Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill of the FBI Honolulu Field Office said, “The FBI will always investigate when a person’s civil rights are violated.”

Merrill concluded, “As correctional officers, they were held to upholding the standards of law enforcement officers within the state prisons, and they did not do so in this case. The FBI will vigorously pursue justice for those whose civil rights were violated.”

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According to the Department of Justice, the maximum penalties for the charged crimes are 10 years of imprisonment for the deprivation-of-rights offense, 20 years of imprisonment for the false report and five years of imprisonment for the conspiracy offense.