HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Honolulu police officer who, prosecutors say, admitted to flat-out lying in an official police report is waiting to hear whether he can stay on the force.
Officer Blake Arita, who has been with HPD less than two years, received his punishment in the criminal case Friday. Prosecutors say the crime came to light when his patrol partner blew the whistle on him.
Arita took a mug photo Friday, after he pleaded no contest to tampering with a government record for falsifying an arrest report.
The 25-year-old arrested a homeless man at Queen's Surf Beach Park last April on suspicion of littering and for a contempt warrant. Prosecutors say Arita wrote in his official report that a city parks worker had approached him, and told him that the suspect was littering and being disorderly.
But his police partner disputed that, and told a supervisor that Arita had no cause to approach the homeless man and was overbearing toward him.
During an HPD internal probe, prosecutors say Arita admitted that he was not approached by anyone from the city Department of Parks and Recreation, and never saw the man litter.
"The Honolulu Police Department takes this issue very seriously," Capt. Andrew Lum, HPD spokesperson, said. "When this incident came to light, the department restricted the officer's police powers, reassigned him to a desk job, and opened a criminal investigation which resulted in his prosecution."
Arita joined the department in March 2010.
The defendant asked for a deferral in the case, which is a chance to keep the conviction off his record. District Judge Leslie Hayashi granted his request, but ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine plus court costs.
"He's an extraordinary officer," Scott Collins, defense attorney, said. "This incident may have been the result of his lack of experience. But given the opportunity, he can go on to do great things. He's learned a lot and he's remorseful."
The officer is now fighting to keep his job.
"Administrative discipline is pending the outcome of the internal investigation," Lum said.
Prosecutors say the deferral period for the misdemeanor is one year. That means if Arita stays out of trouble for the next year, his record will remain clean.