The Honolulu police officer, who four months ago on Memorial Day chased down a robbery suspect in Kalihi and prevented him from jumping from a freeway overpass, was awarded the department’s highest award — the Bronze Medal of Valor — this week.
Police Chief Louis Kealoha made the presentation to Cpl. Edward Tabanera, who is assigned to District 5 which encompasses Kalihi, at an awards ceremony held Wednesday at the Ala Moana Beach Park’s McCoy Pavilion Auditorium.
Also cited for their participation in the May 30 incident were fellow officers Cpl. Robert Frank II and Joseph Faumuina, John Anthony Funtanilla, Mason Jordan and Daniel Walls, who received Certificates of Merit. They are assigned to the same district.
The six officers on Memorial Day responded to a report of an assault at 4:49 p.m. at a Kalihi convenience store, which was later classified as a second-degree murder case.
When the officers arrived at the Aloha Island Mart, at 2314 N. School St., they found the victim, 48-year-old Riley Meade, who was unresponsive on the ground.
A witness told the officers that a possible suspect had fled on foot. While checking the area, Tabanera saw a man who matched the suspect’s description, and he pursued the suspect on foot to the H-1 Gulick Avenue overpass.
The suspect, 19-year-old Rimoni Pologa-Seiuli, climbed over the railing and threatened to jump onto the freeway.
Corporal Frank and Officers Faumuina, Funtanilla, Jordan and Walls arrived at the scene and surrounded the suspect, a police statement said.
The officers pleaded with Pologa-Seiuli for an hour before he told Tabanera, “It’s over for me, I ain’t going back to jail.” He added, “Tell my daughter that I love her.”
The suspect then attempted to jump, according to the affidavit, but Tabanera managed to grab his leg and the other officers quickly converged to help pull the 200-pound suspect back onto the sidewalk.
According to the affidavit, a man had waved down an officer to report that he had seen two men “throwing punches” at the convenience store. Meade appeared to retreat as Pologa-Seiuli chased him and continued to punch him, the witness said.
Prosecutors charged Rimoni Pologa-Seiuli with first-degree assault. His bail was set at $100,000.
The Medical Examiner’s Office has said Meade died when his heart suddenly stopped during a violent physical struggle, and had hypertension and hardening of the arteries, which contributed to his death. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.
Pologa-Seiuli’s case is on the docket in Circuit Court pending the outcome of mental fitness hearings. His next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 6.
Also recognized by the police department at the awards ceremony with the Bronze Medal of Merit was Lt. Yiu Kay Chan, who is assigned to the Kapolei-Waianae District 8, for overseeing the planning, construction, and opening of the new Waianae Police Station.
Lt. Ben Moszkowicz, Sgts. Jason Allen and High Shin Lin, Cpl. Joseph Tabarejo Jr., and Robyn Gonsalves also received Certificates of Merit for their assistance in the dedication and grand opening ceremony on the Waianae station. More than 250 people attended the event, including Mayor Kirk Caldwell, students from Waianae High School and other community members.