Waihee man gets six months in jail for assaulting cop
WAILUKU — A Waihee man was sentenced Friday to a six-month jail term for assaulting a police officer who was trying to stop a fight between the man and his girlfriend last year.
Dustin Mendes, 22, also was placed on five years’ probation. He was allowed to serve the jail time on weekends so he can continue working to support his family.
“We lose so many people in our community from domestic violence,” 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said in sentencing Mendes. “We have a situation where somebody risked their own safety to keep that from happening.
“The guy who ended up getting the worst injured was the guy who was trying to stop the fight.”
Mendes had pleaded no contest to first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer for his role in what happened at about 3:45 p.m. Sept. 3, 2016, at Waihee Ballpark on Kahekili Highway.
Mendes and his girlfriend, Te‘a Smith, were yelling and screaming during a fight, attracting the attention of officer Kamaiki Anakalea, who was off duty, said Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani.
“Officer Anakalea saw what was going on, realized he needed to intervene,” Tani said. “He tried to break it up.”
At first, Mendes and Smith listened to the officer. Then they started arguing again, Tani said.
“Officer Anakalea intervened again,” he said. “Then they assaulted him.”
After being kicked by Smith, the officer was punched in the face by Mendes and the two wrestled on the ground, Tani said.
He said that on-duty police officers arrived at the ballpark and arrested Mendes and Smith.
Speaking in court Friday, Anakalea said that his family and Mendes’ family have known each other for years.
“We’re neighbors and it is an unfortunate circumstance,” Anakalea said.
He said whatever sentence was imposed would be fair.
Based on the facts, Tani asked that Mendes be sentenced to the six-month jail term, which was the most the prosecution could seek under terms of a plea agreement.
Defense attorney Walter Vierra sought a lesser twomonth jail term for Mendes.
“He’s very remorseful,” Vierra said.
He said it was the first conviction for Mendes, who has support from his family and employer.
“What drove this was the alcohol that he was drinking that day — and that he stopped drinking that day,” Vierra said. “He does understand that he has to respect the police and that this should never have happened.”
“I apologize to officer Anakalea and all the officers that were called that day,” Mendes said in court. “That was foolish of me. It was the alcohol. I respect the law. I like to follow the law.”
In letters to the court, neither Mendes nor his family made excuses for what he did, Bissen said.
“If a trained police officer thinks it’s escalating or someone’s going to get hurt if he allows it to go on, it must have been something that looks physical,” Bissen said.
When the judge asked Mendes what he remembered about the incident, Mendes said, “Not a lot.”
“It seemed like you were under the extreme influence of alcohol,” Bissen told Mendes. “Alcohol never causes someone to do something. It allows them to do what they really feel like doing.”
As part of his probation, Mendes was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs. He also was ordered to complete anger management treatment.
Smith, 21, was sentenced in April to a 30-day jail term as part of one year’s probation after she pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree assault on a police officer.
Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.