Settlement reached for 4 injured in high-speed police chase
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city and lawyers for four passengers injured in a 2021 near-fatal police chase in Makaha have reached a tentative multi-million dollar settlement.
The deal was approved Tuesday by the Honolulu City Council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, but must still go to the full Council later this month for a vote.
“This is one of the most clear-cut cases there is of liability on the part of the officers violating policy and violating criminal law,” said former Honolulu Police Department Deputy Chief John McCarthy.
A lawsuit filed last year by the passengers alleged that HPD Officers Joshua Nahulu, Erik Smith, and Jake Bartolome conducted an illegal police chase that caused the crash.
The passengers suffered serious injuries, including broken ribs, spine fractures, and a permanent eye injury, when the white Honda they were traveling in ran off Farrington Highway and landed sideways in a yard.
Experts said the officers violated HPD policy by not turning on their blue lights during the chase, failing to render aid, and driving away from the accident — only to return after an ambulance arrived.
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Most of the chase — except for the actual crash — was caught on security cameras owned by nearby residences and businesses.
“They never thought they were going to get caught,” said McCarthy.
“They’re thinking like criminals. Criminals commit crimes not thinking they’re going to get caught.”
The settlement does not apply to the driver of the car, who suffered permanent brain injuries.
Nor does it apply to the teen who was paralyzed in the crash.
Those two have filed separate lawsuits, which are still pending.
Dayten Gouveia — then 15 — suffered broken bones in his neck and spine. He’s recovering but will require millions of dollars in medical treatment for the rest of his life.
The driver, Jonaven Perkins-Sinipati, will also require millions of dollars in medical care for his injuries.
“There will be a larger settlement for the more serious injury cases,” said attorney Victor Bakke.
“That’s just the way it works. They need more compensation because they have suffered more damages.”
If all three lawsuits are settled, the Makaha crash could become one of the HPD’s costliest high-speed police chases, rivaling — if not exceeding — the deadly 2019 Kakaako crash.
In that case, the city paid a total of $15 million to the families of the three people killed and four pedestrians who were injured by a drunk driver who sped away from police.
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