Inmate sues over Maui jail riot that injured him

March 30, 2021 GMT

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — An inmate who was injured in a Maui jail riot is suing the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

Kevin Lifoifoi’s lawsuit alleges the department failed to keep prisoners safe in an overcrowded jail, The Maui News reported Tuesday.

Lifoifoi suffered a broken jaw and other injuries when inmates broke out of cells and rioted at the Maui Community Correctional Center in 2019, his lawsuit said.

Inmates who set fires, tore phones off the walls, ransacked cells and brawled caused millions of dollars of damage, the department said. Eighteen inmates were later found guilty during an administrative process and moved to an Oahu correctional facility.

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The department knew or “should have reasonably been aware of the overcrowding and brewing inmate problems,” Lifoifoi’s lawsuit said.

The jail was 40% over capacity for a safe level of housing, the lawsuit said, which seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said Monday that the department hadn’t been served with the lawsuit. “We have been advised not to comment on possible pending litigation,” she said.

Lifoifoi, 37, of Kahului was sentenced to five years in prison for two counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, second-degree theft and second-degree unauthorized entry into a dwelling, according to court records.