A federal jury yesterday awarded a former Hawaii resident $400,000 in his lawsuit against two Honolulu police officers charging he was falsely imprisoned and his constitutional rights were violated.
The lawsuit by Emil Pulse, now a California resident, was over his arrest and conviction on firearm charges after a neighboring boater at Keehi Lagoon complained that Pulse had threatened him with a gun in 1991, according to city lawyers.
Police responded to the complaint and seized Pulses gun without a search warrant.
Pulse spent three years and eight months behind bars until the Hawaii Supreme Court overturned the convictions and sent the case back to Circuit Court where a judge ruled that the gun could not be used as evidence against Pulse. The criminal case was later dropped.
City lawyers representing officers Tim Mariani and William Lurbe argued that they should not be held liable.
But the jury in U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollways courtroom returned a verdict of $50,000 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages. City attorneys said its too early to indicate whether they will appeal.
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