Judge declares mistrial for HPD officer accused of attacking motorist

Jeff Hawk
Jeff Hawk
Scott Valdez
Scott Valdez

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu judge on Wednesday declared a mistrial in the case against a Honolulu police officer accused of attacking a teen motorist on the H-1 Freeway last March.

The mistrial was declared after jurors informed Circuit Judge Edward Kubo that they were hopelessly deadlocked in their deliberations.

"My client is very disappointed," Jeff Hawk, defense attorney, said. "He was hoping that he would be found not guilty. My reaction is that, well, sometimes that happens. Jurors are humans. Sometimes they can't reach a decision."

Officer Scott Valdez, 43, was a motorcycle officer at the time of the alleged incident. Prosecutors say he reached into a car during a traffic stop and hit the 18-year-old male driver in the chest.

"He was simply bullying that young man," Scott Bell, deputy prosecutor, told the jury during closing arguments Tuesday.

Valdez was charged with felony unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and misdemeanor criminal property damage. Jurors were tasked with deliberating the felony count only, after the judge dismissed the second charge during the trial.

First-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Hawk argued that the prosecution's entire case rested on the inconsistent statements of the driver, who was cited for vehicle safety violations, and his 15-year-old brother, who was in the passenger's seat.

"These kids were full of lies," Hawk told jurors Tuesday. "When you really look at the story, it doesn't add up."

The hung jury means prosecutors may seek a re-trial.

HPD stripped Valdez of his badge and gun pending the outcome of the case.

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