Lawyer for driver accused of killing HPD officer says client 'still in a bit of shock'

James Dorsey Mancao
James Dorsey Mancao
James Lewis
James Lewis

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The man accused of causing a crash that left a Honolulu police officer dead and another seriously injured has been released from HPD custody pending further investigation.

James Dorsey Mancao met with his new attorney while he was locked up at HPD's main cellblock, the day after his arrest in connection with the death of a Honolulu police officer.

"I think he was still in a bit of shock at that time," James Lewis, defense attorney, said. "But he was cognizant and aware of what was going on."

Crash investigators ruled out alcohol as a factor, but are still awaiting the results of drug tests. The suspect's attorney says the 20-year-old was not under the influence of drugs.

The Hawaii Army National Guard private reportedly told police that he fell asleep at the wheel.

"It appears to be an accident, an auto accident, but the result, unfortunately, is tragic," Lewis said. "This type of thing could happen to anybody. That's what is scary about it."

Officer Eric Fontes -- a seven-year, HPD veteran -- was killed. Officer Herman Scanlan remains hospitalized, but is improving.

Fontes' friends say he was a man of God who worked tirelessly during his off hours ministering to prisoners.

"Knowing Eric and his faith, I know he's in a better place. I have no doubt he's in Heaven," Capt. Ryan Borges, Fontes' friend, said. "With that being said, I have no doubt that Eric would forgive that person who hit him."

A memorial for the fallen officer, which was set up at the Kapolei police station, is growing. Flowers, candles, flags and messages of love filled the corner of the lobby Thursday.

Dorsey Mancao's attorney says there are challenges when a case becomes high-profile and emotionally-charged.

"You have a public outcry at times, which really isn't based on the evidence of the case," Lewis said. "So that can sometimes be a challenge."

Police say they haven't been able to confirm reports that Dorsey Mancao side-swiped another vehicle about a tenth of a mile before reaching the area where the officers were conducting a routine traffic stop. The investigation continues.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.