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Former Big Isle officer charged in 2014 assault found dead

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KAILUA-KONA » A former Big Island police officer has died two days before he was scheduled to change his plea in an assault case.

West Hawaii Today reports that John Smith Jr. was found dead Sunday. Police say they have called for a coroner’s investigation into his death, although there is no indication of foul play.

Smith was charged with second-degree assault for an alleged 2014 attack on a man in police custody. He was accused of dragging the suspected squatter by his hair, slamming him against a police vehicle and assaulting him inside the car.

Smith had been off duty at the time.

It’s unclear if Smith’s proposed plea change, scheduled for Tuesday, would be to guilty or no contest.

Deputy Prosecutor Kauanoe Jackson says she couldn’t comment on the plea agreement.

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