Former NM Police Chief and Officer File Suit After Arrest on Maui
By Wendy Osher
An officer and former police chief in New Mexico have filed a lawsuit against the County of Maui and several police officers alleging they were wrongfully arrested while on Maui in July of 2013.
According to court documents, plaintiffs Jason Greigo and James Sanchez were arrested at a hotel in Mākena after completing a private security job for a New Mexico businessman on Maui.
The complaint alleges that the men were placed in a cell with urine and feces on the ground and were allegedly taunted during the incident.
Three firearms were seized during the incident, and were later returned at the expense of the plaintiffs, according to the complaint.
Both were later released with a Maui officer informing them that “there appeared to have been a misunderstanding,” the lawsuit alleges.
According to the complaint the plaintiffs are requesting that the case be heard in a jury trial.
Maui police responded to our request for comment saying they “respectfully decline any comment” at this time.
A request for comment from the County of Maui was returned with the following statement from Deputy Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey:
“On July 14, 2013, the Maui Police Department received a 9-1-1 call reporting that a burglary had taken place at a private residence in Wailea. After investigating the call, police arrested Greigo and Sanchez for Burglary in the First Degree, Place to Keep a Firearm and Registration of Firearm. Greigo and Sanchez’s firearms were secured by police during the investigation. Although Greigo and Sanchez were police officers in New Mexico, they failed to comply with Hawaiʻi law when they brought their firearms into this state.”
Background information as detailed in the lawsuit filed in Hawaiʻi US District Court:
Plaintiff Jason Greigo is a resident of Rio Rancho, Sandoval County, NM, and served as Chief of the Cuba City Police Department in Sandoval County, NM. Plaintiff James Sanchez is a resident of Counselor, NM and a Reserve Officer of the Cuba City Police Department in Sandoval County.
Defendants include the County of Maui and defendants Anslem Yazaki, Aly Miyashiro, Myrna Sabas-Ryder (all three of whom are sued in both individual and official capacities) and fifteen officers who are unnamed defendants.
The complaint states that in mid-July 2013, while on vacation from their official duties with the Cuba City Police Department, plaintiffs Jason Greigo and James Sanchez were on Maui under private contract to provide personal security services for New Mexico businessman David Maniatis.
While at his residence in Kīhei, Maui, Maniatis required the plaintiffs to carry firearms, according to the document. The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs were permitted to carry firearms. At the conclusion of their assignment on Sunday, July 14, 2013, the complaint states that the plaintiffs returned to Maniatis’ residence in the afternoon to retrieve their personal belongings and drop off some thank you gifts, and then drove to their hotel, Mākena Beach Resort, with plans to return to New Mexico the next day.
At the Mākena Beach Resort, Greigo with his wife and two children, and Sanchez with his son, stayed in adjacent rooms.
The arrests were both made at around 10 p.m. at the resort property, and both involved police knocking on the hotel room doors of the plaintiffs.
“When asked if they had an arrest or search warrant, Sanchez was told that they did not need one, and refused to inform him why he was being arrested,” the complaint alleges.
The complaint further states that “When Sanchez asked what was going to happen to his son at the hotel, he was told not to worry about it.”
According to the document, Sanchez was interrogated at the police station, but refused to answer any questions and was allegedly placed in a holding cell that he claims had feces and urine on the floor. After notifying officers of the condition, the complaint states that “he was directed to remove his shoes and socks and given a paper towel on which to stand.”
When Greigo was arrested, he confirmed that he had three handguns with him and pointed out a backpack where they were stored, the complaint stated. The complaint further alleges that when asked why he was being arrested, “he was told to shut up.”
According to the complaint, Greigo identified himself as a New Mexico Police Chief and asked what he was being charged with and the amount of his bond. “Plaintiff Greigo was taunted by DOE Officer 3 about how it feels to be a police chief and to be in cuffs, told not to worry about the charges against him, and that they would figure it out, and that his bond would be so high he wouldn’t be able to bail out.”
Both men were eventually released at around 2 a.m. the following morning.
The complaint states that after contacting Greigo’s wife, they learned that their families had been evicted from the hotel because an officer had allegedly informed the hotel that the plaintiffs had “violently attacked someone.”
Upon arriving at the airport for departure from Maui, the plaintiffs claim they were met by an officer who informed them that there appeared to have been a “misunderstanding,” the lawsuit alleges.