The Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the death of a worker at the Halawa Correctional Facillity…A suicide.
37-year-old Darwin Fernandez was found unresponsive in a staff bathroom around 3 p.m. on Monday with a stab wound to the chest.
Fernandez was arrested on May 2 for sexual assault of a minor. He was released after posting $30,000 bail.
DPS Internal Affairs is working with Honolulu Police and the state attorney general’s office to investigate.
Sources say Fernandez was working with two inmates in the kitchen. One of them found him on the bathroom floor with a knife in his chest. The state says he was a cook supervisor and had been working for the department for nearly eight years.
DPS director Nolan Espinda has released a statement saying, “We are fully cooperating with our law enforcement partners as they investigate the death and acknowledge that they need to be able to do their jobs without speculation from us on the hows and whys surrounding this tragic situation.”
The incident is also raising more concerns for lawmakers like state Sen. Clarence Nishihara, the chairman of the public safety committee that recommended against confirming Espinda to the job for another four years. Espinda faced a lot of tough questions after recent incidents such as the Maui jail riot and a fatal shooting of an escapee from OCCC.
“It just seems like there’s certainly a lot of bad karma around the place. I think he needs a lot of healing to do in his department, it needs to have some answering of questions,” said Nishihara.
Even though the legislative session is over, Nishihara wants Espinda to face the committee again to provide more answers to this and past incidents.
“I think the public probably deserves answers to these things. I know we certainly deserve answers to these things,” said Nishihara.
He wants Espinda to meet with the public safety committee within the next few weeks.