Family files lawsuit over Hawaii woman’s death in jail

HONOLULU — The family of a Hawaii woman who killed herself in view of jail surveillance cameras has filed a lawsuit against the police department that was holding her.

Leslie Lutao, 59, took her life while in Kauai Police Department custody following her June 2017 arrest for a traffic warrant, Hawaii News Now reported.

An autopsy report listed Lutao’s cause of death as asphyxia due to foreign body obstruction.

Attorney Michael Green filed the lawsuit on behalf of Lutao’s husband and her four grown children.

A video of the interior of Lutao’s jail cell showed her entering shortly before 12 p.m. and trying for more than an hour to kill herself. Paramedics arrived around 2:40 p.m. and began attempts to resuscitate her, Hawaii News Now reported.

Officers assigned to monitor cameras should have noticed Lutao’s behavior prior to her death in one of the jail’s six cells, Green said.

“If they had been there earlier, I have no doubt they could have saved her,” Green said.

Jessica Lancaster, Lutao’s daughter, said her mother suffered from depression.

Kauai police responded to an attempt by Lutao to kill herself the year before and therefore should have placed her on suicide watch, during which officers consistently monitor a person, Lancaster said.

The Kauai Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.


Information from: KGMB-TV,

  1. harry oyama December 13, 2019 4:20 am Reply

    Cops knew about her suicidal attempt a year before again being arrested but did not even consider that condition that led to her death. Maybe the donut shop was just too important to look into that manner? KPD, Kauai’s “finest”, to Serve and Protect.

    Makes you wonder what these cops are “protecting”, their stomach calorie intake?

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