Officers say they were struck with weapon while detaining suspect
Lahaina man faces charges of assault, property damage
WAILUKU — Two police officers testified they were injured when they were both hit on the head with a weapon while struggling to detain a man who fled after smashing the window of a security vehicle last week.
It was only after Cesar Miro-Quesada was handcuffed that police realized the weapon he had been wielding was a metal pipe.
“To everyone’s surprise, it wasn’t a wooden stick at all,” said Wailuku patrol officer Scott McCalister. “It was a metal pipe packed with mud that had a slight bend to it.”
McCalister and fellow officer Sonnie Waiohu Jr. testified Wednesday at a preliminary hearing in Wailuku District Court for Miro-Quesada, 28, of Lahaina.
He was arrested April 1 after police responded to a call at about 11 a.m. reporting damage to the windshield of a Delta Executive Security Hawaii vehicle.
Security guard Christopher Alvarado testified he had parked the vehicle outside the main gate to the former Harley-Davidson dealership at 150 Dairy Road in Kahului when he saw Miro-Quesada with his headphones on and laptop open as he lay on cement next to the building.
Alvarado said he gestured for Miro-Quesada to leave the property and he began packing up his belongings. The security guard said he had kept his distance, then saw Miro-Quesada holding what looked like a stick.
“It was below his waist and then he raised it and started charging after me,” Alvarado said. “He looked mad.”
Alvarado said he ran, then saw Miro-Quesada walk off the property on the sidewalk and use the object to damage the windshield of the vehicle. Alvarado was on the phone with 911 as he followed Miro-Quesada, who walked along Dairy Road to Maui Marketplace.
When officer McCalister arrived on scene, Alvarado pointed out Miro-Quesada.
He was seen running across the road to the Akaku Center before McCalister and Waiohu began tracking down the suspect.
After seeing Miro-Quesada running north on Alamaha Street, McCalister said he parked his patrol car in front of Miro-Quesada to try to intercept him.
“I ran alongside him and continuously asked him to stop,” McCalister said.
When Miro-Quesada stopped fronting Marmac Ace Hardware, McCalister said he positioned himself near Miro-Quesada, who was catching his breath.
Waiohu, who heard McCalister report his location, said he drove to Alamaha Street and also tried to intercept Miro-Quesada as he ran.
McCalister said he was on Miro-Quesada’s left side while Waiohu was on the right side as Miro-Quesada held a blue bag in his left hand and what looked like a 10-inch-long stick in his right hand.
“He had it about waist high and made a jerking motion up to shoulder height and back down again,” McCalister said.
When he saw Waiohu move in to put his hands on Miro-Quesada to detain him, “I immediately jumped in,” McCalister said.
He and Waiohu said they had their hands out to try to pin Miro-Quesada against a wall.
“There was a struggle between all three of us,” McCalister said.
He said his head was slightly lowered when “I felt a hard blow to the head and my initial thought was ‘now he really got me with that stick.’ “
“This is all happening in an instant,” McCalister said. “I thought, ‘OK, I got hit but it’s not affecting me. The situation is still not under control. I need to keep going.’ “
“Did you get the defendant under control?” Deputy Prosecutor Brant Yoshimoto asked.
“Eventually,” McCalister replied.
After hearing McCalister say he had been hit, Waiohu said he looked to see if McCalister was OK and slightly loosened his grip on Miro-Quesada.
“I felt a blow on the left side of my head,” Waiohu said. “I buckled my knees. I had to hang on to the defendant to keep from falling.”
He said he was feeling dizzy and “super out of it” as other officers arrived and took Miro-Quesada to the ground.
“They were trying to detain him,” Waiohu said. “He started to posture up. I jumped up and assisted with trying to get him down.”
As officers were putting Miro-Quesada in handcuffs, “I saw blood dripping” on another officer’s arm, Waiohu said.
He said he thought he was bleeding before touching his head, then seeing “officer McCalister’s face covered in blood.”
McCalister said he suffered a “severe laceration” that was about 2 inches long on the top right side of his head and required five staples to close.
Waiohu said he suffered a hematoma that was bigger than a golf ball on his left forehead.
He said the metal pipe looked like the leg of a chair.
Miro-Quesada agreed to appear by videoconference from the Maui Community Correctional Center for the hearing Wednesday.
After the testimony, Deputy Public Defender Zach Raidmae asked the court to dismiss two counts of second-degree assault of the officers, saying the charges were for the same acts as the two counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer.
Judge Blaine Kobayashi found there was sufficient evidence to support probable cause for the two counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and one count of first-degree terroristic threatening, but not for the second-degree assault charges.
Miro-Quesada is also charged with third-degree criminal property damage.
Kobayashi said he disagreed with a recommendation to release Miro-Quesada on supervision but reduced his bail from $25,500 to $15,500.
“Given the circumstances as testified to, the court does believe the defendant poses a danger to the safety of our community,” Kobayashi said.
Miro-Quesada is set to be arraigned April 14 in 2nd Circuit Court.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.