Honolulu, HI – Jamie Kalani Rice, a native Hawaiian, has filed a federal complaint against Honolulu police for an unprovoked beating he received from Officer Ming Wang, which was captured on videotape.
Rice saw an endangered monk seal lying on the beach and believed it was sick, so he approached the seal and sat a few feet away from it. Rice chanted at the seal while rubbing sand on his body and throwing it in the air, attempting to use his mana (energy) for healing.
Volunteers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded the encounter after asking Rice not to approach the seal. They had posted signs saying “Hawaiian Monk Seals: Please do not Disturb.”
The cameraman says, “Call the police” as he films. However, Rice was clearly not trying to harm the seal, and resorting to the police was uncalled for.
After a few minutes, Officer Wang shows up and approaches Rice, gesturing for him to leave the seal. Rice appears to be caught up in his ceremony, which seems to aggravate Wang as he menacingly whips out his baton.
The seal wiggles away from the pair, and Rice, seemingly satisfied at his deed, walks away. The cop wasn’t satisfied, though, following Rice and making demands.
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Rice appears full of positivity as he picks up his belongings, perhaps believing that his ceremony helped the seal. He poses absolutely no threat to the officer, but Wang decides to attack Rice anyway.
Wang runs from behind Rice and pepper sprays him in the face, and then strikes Rice’s hand repeatedly at full force with his baton. Rice stands there without flinching, calmly taking the beating from this maniacal cop.
This lack of reaction infuriates Wang even further, as he pepper sprays Rice again and again. Then he strikes Rice’s other hand at full force with the baton, causing him to drop his bag. Wang continues striking Rice with the baton until Rice collapses in the sand. Wang gives him a final blow to the back and then stomps on the limp man's body.
Rice suffered broken bones in his right hand from this beating. He rightly claims that Wang used excessive force, and the defendants “took steps to write reports that altered the events as they actually took place so as to justify Wang use force [sic] against the plaintiff to effectuate his arrest.” Wang deceptively attempted to charge Rice with resisting arrest too.
“Prosecutors initially declined to press charges against Wang, but chief prosecutor Keith Keneshiro disagreed and ordered his staff to re-examine the case, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said in a statement.”
Rice pleaded no contest to obstructing a government operation—a misdemeanor—and prosecutors declined to charge him with resisting arrest. He seeks punitive damages for negligence, civil rights violations, conspiracy, assault and battery, false imprisonment and emotional distress.