Oma’o couple files police lawsuit

An ‘Oma’o couple claims that they were wrongfully arrested when their home was invaded by Kaua’i Police Department officers who were looking for a box of marijuana.

Sharon and William McCulley filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated, that they were assaulted, and they suffered emotional distress in a case of mistaken identity.

The McCulleys were babysitting their grandchildren when KPD officers broke into their home in March of last year.

KPD officers Scott Kaui and Damien Mendiola, along with Kaua’i County, were named in the lawsuit.

County Attorney Lani Nakazawa did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Honolulu attorney Michael Green did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. He is one of two attorneys representing the Mc-Culleys.

The lawsuit says that Mendiola grabbed Sharon McCulley, pushed her to the ground, handcuffed her, and pressed a gun to her head with enough force to leave a mark. Her grandchild was forced to lie near her.

William McCulley, who suffers from a nerve disorder and wears a leg brace, was thrown to the floor, according to the suit. An electronic shocking device to alleviate pain malfunctioned, causing him to start flopping on the floor.

The federal lawsuit stems from an anticipatory search warrant that KPD officers carried out on March 15 of last year.

According to court records, the search warrant included putting a tracking device in a box that contained allegedly almost 11 pounds of marijuana and was mailed from California to Kaua’i. The device was also designed to go off if the box was opened.

Court records show that the box was sent via the U.S. Postal Service from California to the Koloa post office, where it was picked up by David Hibbitt.

KPD officers followed Hibbitt’s Toyota truck, but they lost sight of the truck and the box, according to court records.

Following the radio signal, officers arrived at a private road off Kaumuali’i Highway that leads to several homes. KPD officers mistakenly raided two homes before they went to the house where the box eventually ended up, court records show.

Hibbitt pleaded guilty last month to first-degree promotion of a detrimental drug. He also asked that his guilty plea be deferred.

Sentencing or a decision on Hibbitt’s deferral motion is scheduled to take place next month.

  • Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or ckaneshiro@kauaipubco.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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