MPD seeks to restore trust after officer accused of ‘repulsive acts’ is charged

Published: Aug. 28, 2019 at 8:11 AM HST
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MAUI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui police officer who’s accused of abuse of power and inappropriate conduct was arrested and charged Monday night after stepping off a flight in Kahului.

Officer Brandon Saffeels, 34, was released on $50,000 bail Tuesday.

The department said he’s been charged with attempted perjury, attempted hindering prosecution and tampering with a witness. He could face other counts as the investigation continues.

(Image: MPD)
(Image: MPD)

The Maui Police Department said Tuesday that Saffeels, a four-year veteran of the force, has also been placed on leave without pay and his police authority restricted.

In a frankly-worded video post Monday on Facebook, Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu confirmed the arrest and said the accusations have “devastated ... the Maui community."

“Actions speak louder than words. We have taken action,” Faaumu said. “I will not tolerate any misconduct by any of my officers. Throughout this investigation, we have to remember that there is a process to address all manner of complaints. It is important that we all recognize the protections to all parties involved. It is with extreme regret that our community has to face these repulsive acts.”

He added, “I know that many of you have come to question your trust in your police department. I hear you. And I, like you, am disappointed in these revelations.”

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said in an emailed statement that he condemns the alleged misconduct and has “every confidence that these allegations of police misconduct will be thoroughly investigated.”

“Recent allegations of misconduct by a Maui police officer have shaken public confidence in the Maui Police Department. We need to have faith that police officers will serve and protect us – not abuse their authority,” Victorino said.

“While disappointed in these revelations, I’m encouraged that the officer has been arrested, and charges have been filed.”

Meanwhile, Maui police are also reiterating their plea for any other possible victims who want to file complaints against Saffeels to forward.

Three women total have now spoken exclusively with Hawaii News Now describing the accusations against Saffeels.

In HNN’s initial story, a woman came forward to claim Saffeels looked up her cell phone number after arresting her for DUI, and offered to intentionally skew his testimony to get her off the hook.

The woman did not want her name revealed, fearing retaliation but her text messages and recorded phone call with Saffeels prompted an investigation by the Maui Police Department.

A day later, a second woman came forward to HNN with more allegations against Saffeels.

A message from Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu

This is a video message from Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu regarding the arrest of Officer Brandon Saffeels for Attempted Perjury, Attempted Hindering Prosecution I and Witness Tampering.

Posted by Maui Police Department on Monday, August 26, 2019

The second woman claimed her run-in with Saffeels happened a year earlier. She accused him of sending inappropriate messages to her while trying to coerce her for personal favors.

She reported it to MPD’s Internal Affairs Division, but doesn’t believe anything was done because she saw him back on the streets days later.

A third woman has now come forward to report Saffeels’ behavior. In 2017, she says he followed her home one night, in his patrol car, hours after pulling her over. She says he parked just a few houses away and started texting her.

“I asked how he got my number, because obviously I didn’t give it to him, it wasn’t in any information I gave him,” she said he replied, "I have my ways.”

All three women expressed concern that Saffeels bailed out.

“I’m scared," said the first woman to come forward, "I’m worried about retaliation.”

Defense attorney Michael Green has met with some of the alleged victims and is prepared to represent them in court.

“This is not a regular defendant. This is someone where I would hope the prosecution would require certain restrictions on him where he has a curfew, where they monitor this guy," Green said.

"There should be absolute restrictions on this guy because this guy is not well. He’s a predator.”

The FBI is investigating, sources tell Hawaii News Now, but a spokesman for the agency would not comment on that instead issuing this statement: The FBI can not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation at this time. However, we do take these color of law allegations very seriously. Law Enforcement officers at all levels have been given tremendous authority granted by either local, state, or federal agencies and when they abuse this authority it is detrimental to the health of our communities.

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