LOPES, AINA, WINGO, and AKAGI:
CRIMINALS IN THE HONOLULU POLICE DEPARTMENT
A Report by Alfred E. Arney
Part Two: Police Commission I
I had been informed that in order to make a complaint against police officers, I would have to go to the Police Commission. I asked Wendy if she would be willing to help me with her testimony, at the Police Commission, and possibly in court. She was tremendously afraid that the officers might retaliate against her. On the other hand, she felt that she had been assaulted emotionally by the officers. She agreed to go to the Commission with me.
I had been beaten unconscious at about 12:30 A.M. on September 26. Our visit to the Police Commission was at 1:30 P.M. on Sept. 27 - about 37 hours after the beating.One might think that complaints and interviews should be done as soon as possible after the incidents they are about, but, as I was about to find out, I was still stunned and confused. I have since acquired copies of my Police Commission statements, and they are embarrassing. My grammar was poor, I couldn't recall the sequence of events, and I was lucky if I spoke in complete sentences.
Nonetheless, I was able to relate to the inspector - Mr. Cluney - that the situation had come about as I was walking away from an argument with Wendy. We were accosted by several officers, and when one of the officers asked me for my I.D. I jokingly asked him for his I.D. I took my wallet out so I could show them my driver's license, but when they didn't pursue the subject, I put the wallet back.
"Officer Aina … showed me the stitches on his chest very closely … I was told to sit on the wall, and they proceeded to badger or taunt me. They never asked what was happening with me and my girlfriend."
I related that as I sat talking to the officers I was punched repeatedly on alternating sides of my head, that I ended up landing in the dirt on the other side of the wall, and that before they pulled me up (handcuffed) one of them said "If he makes a complaint, we'll call it harassment."
Mr. Cluney agreed to take my complaint, and took pictures of my injuries. He commented on how bad my cheeks looked - swollen and discolored. He photographed my face, mid section, elbows, and right knee. I believe that I gave him the pager number of my other witness, the security guard, S. E. Lauer.
The interview was short - the copy of my statement is only one page long. Mr. Cluney took Wendy's statement at 1:40 P.M., only ten minutes after he had started with me. Wendy had worse problems communicating than I did, even though she hadn't been beaten on the head. Mr Cluney interrupted her often, in contrast to my statement, or at least my copy of it, in which I was allowed to talk in a continual narrative.
Wendy started right away complaining about the violence she had seen, and screaming in front of another officer. Cluney interrupted her and suggested that she start with what we were doing prior to the officers showing up. She related that a disagreement had started between us, and I was walking away from her. All of a sudden she saw these policemen come.
Cluney asked if we had been drinking that evening. Wendy answered yes, and Cluney asked where, and how much. She said that we had been at Hubba Hubba, that she had had Kalua milk and white wine, and I had Budweiser. She didn't know how much.
Cluney then asked, "You indicated he wanted to leave the bar, and that you did not want to leave the bar?" Even though Wendy had not indicated that, she went along and said yes. Cluney asked where her car was parked, although neither she nor I had mentioned the car. When she said that it was on Smith Street, he asked if that wasn't "kind of far away from where you folks were stopped … by the officers?" She said that we were having a disagreement - just verbal, that I had not hit her.
Cluney jumped to River and Nimitz. "…how many officers came and stopped you?"
"Two cars and those putt-putt cars. Each car had two policemen … total that, ah, one was talking to me and the other five was talking to Al."
Cluney: "Who was talking to you?"
Wendy: "Officer Akaka asked me if my boyfriend hit me. I told him no, he did not. And he asked me in a very rough tone of voice what was I doing around here, why are we here. He did not ask me for any identification. He asked me where did I park my car. Those guys … everything happened so fast. I remembered one of the officers told him 'Let him go, let him go,' and they took him away. They grabbed his arms and I said Where are you taking him? Where are you taking him? I thought they were just going to throw him in the car, but they didn't."
"Did you hear them say he was under arrest?"
"No sir, no sir.
"Was your boyfriend cooperating with the officers?"
"Was he getting smart mouthed with them?"
"No. Not to my knowledge, no."
"Alright. He was answering all of the questions that was being asked of him?"
"They took him away from me… they grabbed him away."
"Okay. How far away?"
"Oh, like two feet."
"What were you doing, hanging onto him?"
"No, they grabbed him away from me."
. . .
"When they pulled Alfred away from you, what happened.?"
"I was scared. I was screaming because the officer grabbed him away from me … I hear the guy told him to sit down. And all through that, I saw Al sitting down. And they surrounded him and covered off. And all of a sudden I noticed two big tow trucks covering the policemen."
"Why did the police have tow trucks come?"
"I don't know. They were blocking the view where nobody could see Al getting hit or nothing. They were blocking it."
"Did you see Al being hit?"
"The haole guy."
"Only one officer out of the five officers?"
"Yes, yes. And that's the officer that came back to the officer that was talking to me and I saw his hand motion and say he went hit the guy. And when he say that, I just cry."
"You saw his hand motions hit the guy?"
"I saw him make a hand motion like a fist saying that he went hit the guy."
"He told you that?"
"No, he told the officer that."
"That he hit the guy?"
"Yes. I saw his hand motion. I saw him … He was right there in front of me, not two feet away, not one feet, right in front of me."
"Okay. You're saying the tall Caucasian officer … hit your boyfriend and then he came back and told officer Akaka and made a motion …"
"… like he was punching into …"
" … the palm of his hand…"
"… and told him that he hit the guy?"
"Yes. … I saw. I saw the hand motion. They were right in front of me. … They were less than one feet away from me or right in front of me. The guy had his foot on the stonewall, and I was scared because I thought he was going to hit me too."
"Okay. Alright. How many times did that Caucasian officer hit Alfred?"
"I don't know. I don't know."
"I thought you were only one or two feet away from him?"
"I don't know. Because officer Akaka was worried that I was looking. I kept on looking towards Al and those officers. I kept on looking over."
"Alfred was only from here to there."
"No, no, no. Alfred was … well, I'm not very good in arithmetic, but I can show you by physical how far he was. Oh, I'm scared, you know."
"When they …"
"I'm sorry. I am scared."
"Okay. You only saw this Caucasian officer hit Alfred one time?"
"What happened to your boyfriend?"
"They kept … next minute when I turned around … because Akaka was trying to block my view. I was sitting on the little stone wall. Al was on the ground. … He punched him so hard that he fell over backward on the ground and the guy turned him over … tried to turn him over, and I asked him say, 'You alright.' He goes 'Get up right now. Get up.' And one officer just grabbed Al's arm while Al was still on the ground and put a handcuff on him. He twisted his arm."
"And this is violence."
"Being handcuffed is not being violent if he is placed under arrest."
"… oh, excuse me sir, but he was unconscious. He did not get up."
"He was unconscious?"
"And then what happened after that?"
"After when they tried to grab him up because Al was unconscious, they put him in the car. They all went to the car."
"Did they have to carry him to the car?"
"I don't know because Akaka kept blocking the view. I kept on watching and looking."
"Did Alfred get up by himself to get into the car?"
"No. … He did not get up by himself. The officer grabbed his wrist and pulled it in the back roughly. … his whole entire arm and twisted it while he was still on the ground unconscious. … the other officer that was in front of me kept on blocking and blocking, and I kept moving so I can see what was going on. … And he kept on telling me … that officer was interviewing me … oh, not really interviewing me, but he was talking to me rough and he goes, 'Go home, beat it.' I said no."
"He told you to beat it?"
"Yes. He kept on telling me to leave."
"So the officers took away your boyfriend Alfred?"
"Did you go down later and … bail your boyfriend out?"
"No. I was so scared. I was talking to a security."
"You went home after that?"
"No. I was talking to the security. I wanted somebody to help me … to help me get my boyfriend. And I was scared because I saw what they did to him.
Wendy's interview took up ten pages. It seems obvious to me that she had some problems expressing herself, and with relating things in sequence, and, understandably, Mr. Cluney had to guide her. Sometimes he went too far, though, or didn't go far enough. For example, the question, "You indicated he wanted to leave the bar, and you did not want to leave the bar?" originated in Cluney's imagination, not from anything Wendy said. Even though she had not indicated that, she went along and said yes.
"Where was your car parked?" also originated with Cluney, as neither Wendy nor I had said that we had a car in the area, or that it was hers.
Mr. Cluney did not pursue the issue of how far away from me Wendy was when the officers were punching me, as distinct from when they separated us, and when the officer "came back" and indicated that he had struck me. Cluney did ask, "I thought you were only one or two feet away from him,' and "Alfred was only from here to there?" to which she replied "No, no, no. Alfred was … well, I'm not very good in arithmetic, but I can show you just by physical how far he was." Her statements that she "kept on looking over," and that the officer "came back" indicate that I was being assaulted some distance away from her. Cluney leaves us with the impression that Wendy saw me being struck only one or two feet away from her, yet couldn't tell how many times I was hit, or by how many officers. Was that his intention, or was he just sloppy?
I didn't get copies of these interviews until several years had passed, and our statements had been taken separately, so in September of 1996 I had no idea what Wendy had said. I apologize to any Officer Akaka, if there is one, for being mistakenly placed at the scene of this incident. Other documents confirm that the officer who dealt with Wendy was in fact Dru Akagi.
I had a much more in-depth interview with investigator Brad Mrkva on October 2, one week after the assault.
Mrkva started by showing me photographs of all the officers working in the area during the date and time of the incident. He told me to take my time, look at the photos, and pull out the photographs of all the officers I had a complaint against. There were a dozen or so pictures of happy, smiling officers, none of whom resembled the snapping, snarling bullies who had confronted me.
I related to Mrkva that my glasses were off for most of the incident, and that I can't focus beyond about one foot in front of me without them. He asked what my vision was, and I told him it was 20 / 400 something in each eye. He asked, when the officers initially came, did I have my glasses on?
"Yeah," I replied. "And shortly thereafter when the guy in my statement, I assume whom I … showing it to me very closely … which I can't figure out how that happened because, I mean, like the guy's name was right there, Aina. ( In this instance, the ellipses do not indicate words left out, but rather my inability to speak coherently. I was trying to explain that shortly after the incident began I somehow found my face very close to Aina's chest, looking at his name stitched there.)
"And I didn't know. If my glasses was on, I wouldn't have to do that. I don't know if I was pushed into him or whatever, but starting right then it's like very hazy and everyone is like a ring of blue."
"But when did you lose your glasses?"
"That's it, I'm not sure and I think back is at that point I know it's real, real close. So there was no reason for me to get that close.
"But anyhow, I'm just trying to qualify that to say I really hesitate -officers come by where I work. I work at Magoo's Pizza. About ten or fifteen officers a day drop in there and, you know, most of these guys look familiar to me. So … I don't want to get any who's not guilty in trouble, you know what I mean.That's why I really would qualify that. These ones ( I had pulled out several photos) that struck me right off the bat. … These other guys did not."
"Now you have a complaint against all these officers?" He indicated the photos I had pulled out.
"I don't even know how many it was. I think there's three to five, and that's all I can say is those look … something in me, you know, recoils or whatever when I see that."
"Who's the main officer in your complaint?"
"The main is, ah, what'd I say, Aina …"
"Aina is the officer you have a complaint against?"
"Well, as the witness. I mean, I know he was there because my nose was right in his name tag."
"But did he do anything?"
"I don't know. My glasses dropped. Whoever hit me it was from where I couldn't see him. They made sure I couldn't see him. … I was blind sided, you know, several times."
Mrkva asked, "How did the whole thing start with the confrontation with the officers?"
I related that my girlfriend was arguing with me, and I was trying to walk away when the officers pulled us over. I was happy to see them, because I thought that they'd separate us. "When the officer first came up I said that she's trying to fight with me and I'm trying to walk away. And that's it. And then somebody asked me for an I.D. and I said 'cause like I said, I was happy to see him. I just thought that that was going to be it. I said, 'Oh, can I see your I.D. too.
"He goes like 'You want to see my I.D?' and then my face was right here (in Aina's chest) and then it went downhill from here."
"Now did the officers swear at you?"
"It was with that attitude. His attitude was, but … I don't recall him saying any foul words."
"Now during this time were you acting boisterous?"
"Well, we had been drinking and shooting pool."
"And how much were you drinking?"
"Oh, I don't know. Probably three or four beers … Budweiser … in the course of a few hours, but … it wasn't … you know, I was shooting pool alright. We walked out of there okay … I wasn't staggering. I don't think I was drunk in that sense. But … if I had four beers and I asked you for your I.D., it's going to sound different, you know what I mean. … that was all that I said to him that was out of line, if it was …"
"And who are you saying this to?"
"I believe it was Aina, 'cause he's the one I ended up seeing … but … it gets confused very fast 'cause I don't know why all of a sudden my face was so close to him. I didn't walk up to him and take my glasses off and look, you know …"
"But what happened … to start this whole thing?"
"That was it, right there. I asked for his I.D. … I thought it was like joking. I thought it was good. These guys are going to separate me from my girlfriend, alright … I've called the cops several times to separate us …"
"What happened after you asked him for his I.D. and he showed you his I.D. on his uniform?"
"Ah, I was asked to sit on the wall and we went through several topics of discussion … I remember at one point that I told these guys that they were making some comments about asking for the I.D. They didn't have to do that. They said we don't have to show you anything or whatever. And I made a remark about them hiding behind their Batman suits and they laughed … I didn't think again that it was out of line. I thought, well this is kind of stupid. This is not what I expected, but it's what we talked about. And also about Officer Aina's name, I was saying about that reminds me of Polynesian culture. I said yeah, aloha aina. You know, this is not what I expect … The last thing I remember saying was you guys are civil servants. I don't see what's the problem. And this is not my words, … but I remember that topic was there. I'm saying, 'You guys are civil servants, what's the thing with your name?'
"And at that point they started to hit me. I was sitting on the wall like this."
"Were they attempting to get identification from you?"
"… when that happened, I pulled my wallet out. Like I said, I wasn't saying I'm not going to give you my I.D. if you don't give me yours. It wasn't like that. I had my wallet out, and when they made me sit down, I put my wallet back in. … No one did pursue that."
"No one pursued the identification issue?"
"They went on into these different topics of conversation."
"You recall pushing an officer …"
"… is that how this …"
"Not at all.""
"… thing started?"
"Nothing like that?"
"Why were you arrested?"
"Because they had to cover it up for the fact that they beat me up. … I heard them when I was lying on the ground … at the very end I heard somebody saying 'Okay, if he makes a complaint, we'll say it was harass-
… or harassment.' And I remember them saying that 'We'll charge him with harassment in case he makes a complaint.' "
"But you can't pick out the officers who hit you?"
"No, no … I don't know which one hit me, 'cause he was not bold enough to let me see him."
"Now were these hits … were these punches?"
"Oh, yeah. Ah, the … Inspector Cluney or Mr. Cluney took some (photos) … both sides of the face were puffed up … I think they dragged me over the wall … so my ribs were really scratched … my girlfriend said my ear was bleeding too later on. But this was, you know, blows to the sides of the face. … I used to box. It was sorta like if you were hitting a heavy bag or something and getting (inaudible) … (The interview with Mrkva was recorded on a tape recorder, and transcribed later.)
( I didn't really have a boxing career. My Dad took me to a C.Y.O. gym when I was about ten years old, and in the winters I went once a week until I was thirteen. The reference to hitting a heavy bag was about getting the feel of what the weight was like, and finding a knockout spot. The officers took this opportunity to find out what it felt like to punch a real human head - mine.)
Mrkva: "Now, when were you taken to the hospital? When was your ear bleeding? Was this before being taken to the station?"
"No, it was after I came out. I started walking home. And fortunately, my girlfriend had lost her car keys … she was still there. And so, she took me home, and … took a shower and stuff, and she was looking at me and said, 'Oh, your ear is bleeding.' "
"They didn't take you to the hospital when they took you to the station?"
"Did you complain of any injuries?"
"Well, I sort of had the impression at that point that any statements by me were counterproductive. So I wasn't really saying much to anyone. … I didn't complain of anything, no. … Just asking him for his name was bad enough."
"Okay. And you don't remember hitting or pushing an officer?"
"Oh, not at all. I know I didn't. I'm a sassy person and I tend to be sarcastic. And I imagine if I'm drunk, it was bad -- ah, just that I'm not that dumb. I mean, I would have to be really, really far gone for me, even after they started to slug me, I didn't you know, take any retaliation. That, I could see that, if you hit me, I'll hit you back, but not surrounded by armed guys. Uh-uh. I'm just not that dumb.
I have problems accepting the accuracy of my transcript of this interview, and have had to edit it extensively. Some of the ellipses originated with whomever did the transcribing, and I have no idea if some of my statements were omitted, or if I was indeed incoherent and out of sequence. Some of the ellipses are my responsibility, and they do indicate that words have been left out. Mr. Mrkva and I were constantly interrupting each other, and repeating statements, so for the readers sake I've tried to edit for continuity. The sequence of questions, answers, and statements is true to the transcript, and additions - where I felt obligated to clarify a few points - are all in parentheses.
Mr. Mrkva made much of the fact that I didn't want to positively identify any of the officers' photos as one of my assailants, even though I pointed out to him that they all looked familiar, and probably every officer in H.P.D. came by Magoo's Pizza in the years I worked there. I did pull several photos out from the pile, saying that they made me "recoil." Did Mrkva mean that none of the pictures I pulled out were of the four officers who filed charges against me that night?
Much was also made (later) of my failing to complain to the officers about the injuries I received from them. To this day, I cannot comprehend why I would be expected to do that. Whether they all took turns hitting, or whether some hit and some watched, they all saw that I was knocked unconscious, and sustained cuts and bruises. It would be like complaining to sharks about them biting you.
I was sure that I gave the security guard's pager number to Mr. Mrkva or Mr. Cluney - why would I not? - but inexplicably that information does not appear in either interview.
The Police Commission did not reach any conclusions until April of the following year, and, as I have related, I did not see any copies of their work or reports for a few years. Meanwhile, there was still a trial pending, as I had to face that charge of harassment - of pushing an officer.
We will return to the Police Commission a little later.