Hanging for 6 hours: dead man upsets cellmate

May 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Bad Apples, Jails, Security, Spotlight

Undetected for 6 hours, the hanging death of an inmate is shedding light on operations at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.

Cellmate’s Suicide Was Traumatic, Man Says

By PURNA NEMANI | Courthouse News

HONOLULU (CN) – A Hawaii man says in state and federal court that Oahu corrections officers ignored his pleas for help all night after he discovered that his cellmate had hanged himself.
In Hawaii’s First Circuit Court, Charles A. Cocklin II sued the state and several as-yet unknown defendants…

“On or about May 12, 2010, plaintiff was transferred into a cell with a former Adult Corrections Officer (ACO) who was fearful of the current ACOs at OCCC and had a history of suicide attempts,” the complaints state.

“On May 12, 2010, at approximately 10:30 p.m., plaintiff awoke in his cell and discovered that his cellmate had committed suicide by hanging himself…”

“Plaintiff fell out of his bunk in a panic, slipped and hit his head, and then ran over to the cell door to pound on the door and yell for assistance.”

“Although plaintiff could see three ACOs, including defendant Wright, who were supposed to be monitoring his cell, none of those ACOs responded to plaintiff pounding on the cell door and yelling for assistance,” the state court complaint says.

One of the guards slept through the ordeal, and another sat in a chair with a towel draped over his head, Cocklin says…

Finally at 4:30 a.m., after spending six hours with the body, an officer delivering breakfast discovered the suicide, according to the complaint.

OCCC allegedly suspended one of the three officers, leading a guard to threaten Cocklin verbally and via letter over the discipline. He also claims that the officers “falsified the cell check work logs to cover up the fact that [they] had not monitored plaintiff’s cell…”(Full text at Courthouse News)

Hawaii may be paradise but when it comes to the corrections system, there’s been trouble in paradise for decades. In fact, in the late 80’s corruption was so rife the DOC reached out to California for help.

The late Chuck Hildebrand, then an officer at CIW, was recruited to infiltrate Hawaii DOC as a newly hired officer. By the time it was done, Chuck detected and exposed a murder for hire plot among the ranks of CO’s. Numerous staff were prosecuted as a result.

Chuck returned to California where he was decorated and soon promoted. Sadly, a few years later he died from a toxic reaction to chronic pain medication–The chronic pain being the result of an inmate assault that led to the amputation of a testicle. He was a good friend and one tough SOB. But I digress…

Then again, perhaps Hawaii’s continuing woes are good in one respect–They provided a vehicle to tell you about a truly unsung correctional hero: Chuck Hildebrand.

Rest in Peace, Pal.

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2 Comments to “Hanging for 6 hours: dead man upsets cellmate”

  1. kl2008a says:

    Paco, like you, Chuck was a good friend to my wife and I, and he is dearly missed by all that knew him.

  2. Bob Walsh says:

    Assuming the forensics back up the inmate those officers are in deep trouble. As well they should be.