HPD officer facing criminal probe after near-fatal crash previously accused of civil rights violations

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:12 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Honolulu police officer accused of running a car off the road in Makaha last month was already part of a civil rights lawsuit.

Officer Joshua Nahulu is on restricted duty and has had his police powers removed while criminal and administrative investigations continue.

Nahulu hired Richard Sing, a respected criminal attorney who has defended officers before. Sing’s clients include Officer Geoffrey Thom, who was involved in the fatal shooting of a teen in April. A grand jury and district court judge declined charges against Thom.

The crash involving Nahulu happened Sept. 12.

Nahulu and two other officers allegedly hit a Honda they were chasing on Farrington Highway in Makaha. Witnesses said none of the three police cars had lights or sirens on.

The Honda rolled and went airborne, ejecting the people inside.

Dayten Gouveia, 15, was a passenger in the vehicle.

He has a back and neck injury and initially was told he would be paralyzed.

“The doctors are somewhat optimistic at this point because he’s beginning to have some feeling, not only with his arms and his upper body but now in his lower body,” said Attorney Eric Seitz, who is representing the Gouveia family and filed a lawsuit against HPD and the city on their behalf.

The family of a 14-year-old boy paralyzed in a car crash in Makaha nine days ago has sued the...
The family of a 14-year-old boy paralyzed in a car crash in Makaha nine days ago has sued the city and Honolulu Police Department, alleging the incident was the result of a police chase and that officers tried to cover it up.

Another man in the car was also critically hurt and several others had serious injures.

Witnesses said the three officers did not stop to render aid.

Nahulu was already accused of violating the civil rights of a Waianae man, Sefo Fatai.

Fatai ended up homeless, living in a truck on Oahu’s west side, after he was wrongfully arrested and held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center for years for a drug crime he did not commit.

Fetai filed a federal lawsuit in 2019 against the city, HPD, and several narcotics officers individually, including Nahulu. That case is moving toward trial.

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Experts say the prior accusation increases the potential damages for the city on the Makaha crash case.

“It ups the liability and the reason that’s important for the public to understand is, we pay for this kind of stuff,” said Ken Lawson, of the Hawaii Civil Rights Project, which is representing Fatai.

“It’s (taxpayers) money that’s coming out of our pockets when officers like this continue to stay on the force with no discipline,” Lawson said.

The other two officers allegedly involved in the Makaha crash have not yet hired criminal defense attorneys. No charges have been filed, but the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office said they will be reviewing the criminal case once HPD’s investigation is complete.

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