An indigenous Hawaiian man beaten by a Police officer – for trying to heal a seal he believed to be injured.
A man arrested after volunteers called police to report he was harassing a Hawaiian monk seal at Nanakuli beach in Honolulu has filed an excessive force lawsuit.
According to Honolulu Civil Beat, the incident recently gained attention after a video was posted online by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that showed the encounter between Jamie Kalani Rice and Officer Ming Wang.
The video was shot Sept. 11, 2014, by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration volunteers Barbara and Robert Billand, who had put up warning signs to keep people away from the seal.
Note: Video has been cut from its original 10 minute, 51 second length to the point where Rice is approached by Officer Wang. The omitted parts show Rice kneeling near the seal and chanting for several minutes.
The video shows Rice sitting about three feet away as he spoke and chanted to the seal. Officer Wang approaches Rice and they exchange some words. Rice gets up and walks away, Wang follows him, uses pepper spray on Rice and then hits him several times with a baton until Rice is on the ground.
Rice had broken bones in his right hand from the beating.
Opposing Views reports, Wang originally wrote in his police report that Rice would not step away from the seal when told to, but when Rice did walk away, he refused to stop after Wang told him he was under arrest.
The Honolulu Police Department investigated the incident, but prosecutors decided not to charge officer Wang in June because the video did not include dialogue between him and Rice.
In a plea deal, Rice pleaded no contest to obstructing a government operation, which is a misdemeanor.
Rice told Circuit Judge Paul B.K. Wong that he thought the seal was sick and never meant to harm it.
Rice said he was trying to heal the seal by rubbing sand on himself and throwing the sand in the air, which was supposed to transfer his energy to the seal.
Wong sentenced Rice to five days in jail, but credited him with time already served.
Rice is bipolar, suffers from schizophrenia and hears voices, says his attorney Michael Green.
Rice filed a federal complaint on Dec. 29, 2015. Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, the City and County of Honolulu and officer Wang, —whom he says used excessive force and tried to cover up the incident— are named as defendants in the case.
Rice seeks punitive damages for negligence, civil rights violations, conspiracy, assault and battery, false imprisonment and emotional distress notes Courthouse News.
The lawsuit does not specify how much money Rice is seeking in damages.