On Wednesday, Jordan DeMattos, a former correctional officer at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo, pleaded guilty to helping three other correctional officers physically assault a detainee and create a false account of the circumstances of the attack.
De Matto’s and the other officers held a detainee on the ground, according to a U.S. Department of Justice memorandum released on Thursday. While the detainee was pinned down, “the officers beat, kneeled and kicked the detainee dozens of times in the face, head and body. The prisoner offered no resistance during much of the attack. DeMattos said during his arraignment hearing that this excessive use of force was unjustified. After the assault, the four officers made up a cover story to falsely justify their excessive use of force.
” Prison officers are given great powers to enforce rules, maintain order and protect inmates within their facilities,” said Eli S. Miranda, special agent in charge, in a statement issued Thursday. “When Jordan DeMattos used these powers and violated the civil rights of an inmate whose protection he was charged with, he undermined the respect and reputation of all officers who perform their duties lawfully and with dignity.
DeMattos faces up to 10 years imprisonment for the attack itself, 20 years imprisonment for making a false report and five years imprisonment for participating in a conspiracy to cover up the attack.
Jason Tagaloa, Jonathan Taum and Craig Pinckney, who are the other officers allegedly involved in the attack, are expected to be tried in March 2021. All three officers have pleaded not guilty to three counts of assault: Obstruction by false report, two counts: deprivation of rights according to the color of the law and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
According to the June indictment against the officers, the nameless inmate was attacked in the prison’s recreation yard in June 2015. Tagaloa is said to have attacked the same detainee in a holding cell.
Washington Newsday turned to the Hawaii Department of Public Safety for comment.
In September, inmates at the facility destroyed facilities and set mattresses on fire after police searched the unit for contraband. According to a statement from the Hawaii County Police Department, “law enforcement officers suffered from smoke inhalation and breathing difficulties as a result of the incidents.
One correctional worker was treated and released from a local medical facility for minor injuries. Some inmates were returned to the facility after being examined for signs of smoke inhalation. No video of the incident was available for investigation.
Ministry of Public Security spokesman Toni Schwartz told the Honolulu Civil Beat in October that an overhaul of the facility’s video surveillance system was underway. However, upgrades to the prison’s video and electronic systems were “not operational” during the incident.