Tongan Man Alleges Police Brutality: Lawsuit Claims Officers Hit Him with Car and Beat Him During New Year’s Day Pursuit

Honolulu, Hawaii – A lawsuit has been filed against the city by a man who claims that he and his father were hit by a police car and beaten by officers. Tevita Cadiente, 25, and his father, Vaokehekehe Mataele, 49, were allegedly targeted by officers while observing a pursuit and shootout on New Year’s Day. The incident occurred as police were chasing a suspect, Sidney Tafokitau, who opened fire on University Avenue, injuring two officers before being shot and killed by police.

According to the lawsuit, Cadiente and Mataele, who knew Tafokitau from church, stepped outside their condominium to observe the police activity. As they jogged up University Ave, Cadiente attempted to call Tafokitau in the hope of convincing him to surrender peacefully. However, before reaching the overpass, an unmarked white Honda blocked their path, and plainclothes officers emerged, pointing firearms at the unarmed father and son.

The lawsuit alleges that a large black police van then unexpectedly climbed the curb and hit Cadiente, causing him to slide under the vehicle. Officers then reportedly dragged Cadiente out from under the van and began beating him, using both their hands and the blunt ends of their weapons. The complaint documents a range of injuries suffered by Cadiente, including a facial fracture, cognitive impairment, and vision loss.

During the incident, news reports briefly identified Cadiente as the attempted murder suspect, which was later found to be incorrect. The lawsuit also claims that officers hurled obscenities at both Cadiente and Mataele, ignoring their pleas of innocence. The incident has sparked outrage and calls for accountability, with the family’s attorney describing it as a “blatant example of a failure to train” and a “blatant abomination.”

When questioned about the allegations, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. The department confirmed that both a criminal investigation and administrative review into the incident are ongoing. HPD Chief Arthur “Joe” Logan did not mention Cadiente and Mataele’s injuries during initial briefings about the event, leading to criticism from community leaders.

The lawsuit provides the first detailed account of Cadiente’s injuries, shedding light on the events that unfolded during the pursuit and shootings. The Honolulu Police Commission, chaired by Doug Chin, has called for better communication from the department regarding serious allegations. Chin emphasized the need for a responsible and transparent approach in addressing the public’s concerns, stating that maintaining public trust is crucial.

As this case unfolds, the focus remains on seeking justice and accountability for the alleged police brutality. The lawsuit serves as a reminder of the importance of proper police training and procedures to ensure the safety of citizens during high-stakes situations. The HPD’s response, or lack thereof, to the allegations will undoubtedly influence public perceptions and expectations of the department.