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3 ex-Hawaiʻi Island prison guards convicted of assaulting inmate, falsifying reports

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Three former prison guards at the Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center were found guilty of civil rights violations for assaulting an inmate and trying to cover it up, the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday.

A jury convicted Jason Tagaloa, 31, Craig Pinkney, 38, and Jonathan Taum, 50, after a three-week trial last week. U.S. Marshals took them into custody after the verdict.

A fourth former guard, Jordan DeMattos, previously pleaded guilty for his role in the 2015 assault and cover-up, and testified for the government, federal prosecutors said.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety fired the Big Island men in 2016.

The guards punched and kicked Chawn Kaili in the head and body over the course of two minutes in the recreation yard at HCCC, prosecutors said. He suffered a broken nose, jaw and eye socket.

When the prison opened an investigation, the defendants prepared a cover-up story and wrote false reports omitting their acts of violence.

They face up to 10 years in prison for depriving the inmate's rights, 20 years for the false report and five years for conspiracy.

“Justice has been served as those involved were held accountable," Public Safety Director Max Otani said in a statement. “The Department will not tolerate this type of behavior from any employee.”

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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