New body-cam video shows events that led to HPD chase ahead of serious crash

Newly released body camera videos show the moments before an unauthorized chase by Honolulu police on Sept. 12, 2021.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:19 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Newly released body camera videos show the moments before an unauthorized chase by Honolulu police on Sept. 12, 2021.

The videos also show that HPD supervisors were aware that witnesses were pointing the finger at officers from the beginning.

It all started with a loud music call about 3:30 a.m.

“Get one guy over there playing his sounds, was loud.”

Police head to Maili Beach Park to break up the people gathering. Five of them get into a white Honda sedan.

Body camera video shows an officer in a patrol car arriving to find the Honda driving away.

That officer asks another, “You guys going tag ‘em?”

Another officer responds, “Yah, I told him to stop, but he no like stop.”

The first officer watches as the Honda heads out of the parking lot.

The driver honks the horn and the officer reacts as the car speeds off.

“I going chase this (expletive).”

He runs back to the patrol car but turns off his body camera before getting in.

Other video from a bus shows the white Honda pass in the left lane on Farrington Highway. A few seconds later, the subsidized SUV and then two patrol cars. None of the cars have their lights on, and no sirens can be heard.

The white Honda crashes, rolling through a field, hurdling a wall and resting on its side in the front yard of a home.

All five people inside the car, some juveniles, were thrown across the crash scene.

Witnesses say the police officers did not stop after the crash. Instead, they circled the neighborhood, returning after the 911 calls started coming in from neighbors.

Officer Jake Bartolome, Erik Smith and Joshua Nahulu all show up after EMS and HFD are already treating the victims and have started loading them in ambulances.

Bartolome’s own body camera showed him talking to an eye witness.

“You guys seen who was driving?” Bartolome asked.

The witness responded, “We seen one cop push them off the road and these guys wen ...”

Bartolome’s camera shows he turned and walked away as the witness was still talking.

Body camera video from another officer, R. Lewis, shows Bartolome peeking into the ambulance with the most seriously injured — the driver who was in a coma for more than a month.

Officer Lewis grabs Bartolome by the shoulder, says something to him, then pats him on the back.

Officer Smith’s camera also showed an encounter with a different witness.

“Investigate what really wen happen, OK?” the witness said, clearly upset.

Smith responded, “That’s what we trying for do, brah.”

The witness continued, “Because that’s really (expletive) up what happened to these kids, you know what I mean.”

One teen was paralyzed in the crash, but after intense physical therapy, he regained his ability to use his arms and legs.

Another teen lost his eye.

Officer Joshua Nahulu, suspected of being in the unmarked SUV, was positioned outside the crime scene, blocking traffic on Farrington Highway.

His body camera video showed he tried to get information from other witnesses.

One man told him, “Brah two cops, one with an SUV, he said wen bang ‘em.”

Nahulu responded, “Did he get license plates of the cars?”

Attorney Michael Stern represents some of the victims in a civil lawsuit against the city.

“If the Honda had been doing something wrong, then you pull them over,” Stern said, adding there was no reason for officers to chase the car. They should have tried to pull the driver over instead.

“They don’t go to the car. They don’t say roll down the window, you’re doing anything wrong.”

The officers remain on restricted duty as the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office works the criminal investigation.