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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Former Correctional Officer Sentenced for Assaulting a Hawaii Inmate

A former correctional officer at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison for his role in the assault of an inmate and his participation in a multi-year conspiracy to cover-up the abuse.   

According to court documents and evidence introduced at trial, on June 15, 2015, Jason Tagaloa, 31, joined his two co-defendants and a third correctional officer while they transported an inmate across the facility. The inmate became frightened in the course of the transfer, and Tagaloa took the non-violent inmate to the ground, where he and his co-defendants repeatedly punched and kicked the inmate in the face, head and body. The inmate’s jaw, orbital socket and nose were broken in the course of the assault. In the months and years that followed, Tagaloa participated in a cover-up conspiracy that included writing false reports, submitting false statements to internal affairs and providing false testimony to disciplinary board members.  

“The defendant abused his authority and violently assaulted and injured an inmate without justification,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence makes clear that no one is above the law, and that when corrections officials violate the civil rights of people held in our jails and prisons they will be held accountable.”

“As a correctional officer, Tagaloa accepted responsibility for ensuring the safe incarceration of inmates,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors for the District of Hawaii. “When he instead participated in the brutal assault of an inmate, he violated the inmate’s civil rights and then sought to cover it up. Our office is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who engage in such criminal conduct.”

“The law applies to everyone equally,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill of the FBI Honolulu Field Office. “This case shows those who work in positions of public trust are held to the same standard as the general public. All misconduct allegations are investigated thoroughly and fairly by the FBI.”

Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Connors, Assistant Director Luis Quesada for the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Special Agent in Charge Merrill made the announcement.

The FBI investigated the case.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan of the District of Hawaii, Special Litigation Counsel Chris Perras, and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division’s  Criminal Section prosecuted the case.

Press Release Number: 
22-1320
Updated December 7, 2022