Criminal probe launched into 3 HPD officers suspected of causing, fleeing scene of near-fatal crash
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three Honolulu police officers are under criminal investigation ― suspected of causing and then fleeing the scene of a near-fatal crash early Sunday in West Oahu.
A Honolulu Police Department spokesperson confirmed the investigation and said the three officers, who have been placed on restricted duty, have between two and 15 years of service.
Among those injured in the crash: 14-year old Dayten Gouveia.
He is paralyzed and on a ventilator. A rod and screws were put into his back and neck.
Gouveia and five others were injured in what Honolulu police originally reported as a single-car crash.
But witnesses say the white Honda sedan was actually being chased by three HPD vehicles.
Witness Anthony Charles was riding his motorcycle eastbound from Yokohama Bay and said, “It kind of looked like two cars was racing towards me at first because I didn’t see no lights or anything.”
At Orange Street, he said, one of the police vehicles clipped the sedan, sending it flying through the air. The Honda went airborne, crashing through fence posts, trees and skimming over a rock wall.
It flipped several times and five of the occupants ― mostly older teens but also a 30-year-old ― were thrown across a resident’s yard.
“The car looks like it was bombed,” added attorney Michael Green, who represents five people in the car, including the driver, Jonaven Perkins-Sinipati.
After the crash, Charles pulled over to help. He said the three HPD officers just kept driving.
“I was tripping out, like wow, you guys never even stopped to render aid,” Charles said.
He added that the other witnesses started searching for the passengers and stayed with them until paramedics with Emergency Medical Services arrived.
Multiple people reported seeing the officers turn mauka on Jade Street.
Charles said they returned to the scene after the 911 call came in.
“The first thing I heard from one of the officers, ‘So what happened here?’ and so I told him, ‘You guys should know, you guys (were) the ones who run them off the road,” Charles said.
He said the officers then moved him and the others back and stopped taking their statements.
Gouviea, the teen who was paralyzed, remains at The Queen’s Medical Center.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon in response to questions from HNN, interim Police Chief Rade Vanic called the allegations against the officers “serious.” He added, “Criminal and administrative investigations have been initiated to see if laws or department policies were violated.”
Attorneys for the victims’ families, meanwhile, said HPD is in full “cover-up” mode.
Hours after the crash Sunday, the police department issued a brief incident report, saying the white Honda “lost control,” hitting a concrete curb then “collided with trees and continued over a wall.”
But the report made no mention of any police involvement.
“It looks like there is a cover-up. The damages are unbelievable to young people whose lives will never be the same,” said Green. “What makes it worse is coming back to render aid like you found out for the first time. Are you kidding me?”
Attorney Eric Seitz, who represents Gouveia’s family, alleged covering up misconduct is ingrained at the HPD.
“There have been too many incidents in the past two years of police misconduct — serious misconduct,” he said.
“In fact, I have already been in touch with federal authorities suggesting that the Honolulu Police Department ought to be placed under federal oversight.”
Retired state Judge Randal Lee said it’s now up to the leadership to show they want the truth revealed and officers held accountable — which is important to both the public and the department.
“When you are the leader, the buck stops with you. And all of your subordinates follow your lead,” Lee said. “If the statement comes out is misleading to the extent that it didn’t talk about any high speed chase ... it reflects on the entire organization.”
Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.