Wai­hee man gets six months in jail for as­sault­ing cop

The Maui News - - TODAY’S PEOPLE - By LILA FUJIMOTO Staff Writer

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 lfu­ji­moto@mauinews.com.

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