Another lawsuit filed against city officials over Makaha crash — this time in federal court

A new,expanded civil lawsuit has been filed in federal court over an alleged HPD police chase that ended with a serious crash in Makaha in September 2021.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 5:25 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 12, 2023 at 8:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new,expanded civil lawsuit has been filed in federal court over an alleged HPD police chase that ended with a serious crash in Makaha in September 2021.

Six people were hospitalized, most with critical injuries.

The new case, filed by the attorney for Dayten Gouveia, was submitted Monday.

It names Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm, Corporation Counsel Dana Viola, Police Chief Joe Logan and Deputy Chief Rade Vanic, as defendants.

The case claims Gouveia’s Fourth Amendment and 14th Amendment rights were violated.

Gouveia was 14 years old when the incident happened.

He was a passenger in a white Honda sedan that was reportedly being chased by officers, without lights and sirens activated through Oahu’s west side.

In Makaha, the sedan went airborne, flipped and landed in the front yard of a home. The officers involved are accused of then leaving the scene of the crash, returning only after the 911 calls came in.

Gouveia was paralyzed in the crash.

His condition improved after intense rehab but he will need care for the rest of his life. Gouveia filed a negligence lawsuit in state court, but attorney Eric Seitz added the federal court case Monday.

“The process by which the police officers pursued the car was unconstitutional,” Seitz said, adding it violated Gouveia’s protection from search and seizure.

“The conduct was so outrageous.”

Four Honolulu police officers are charged with crimes, but none specific to what happened to Gouveia.

Officer Joshua Nahulu, faces the most serious charge. He’s accused of causing an accident involving death or serious bodily injury to the driver of the sedan. Officers Erik Smith, Jake Bartolome and Robert Lewis III are charged with hindering prosecution and conspiracy. The criminal trial is set for Dec. 18.

Gouveia’s attorney believes Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm should have charged the officers for crimes that include his client specifically.

Seitz has participated in settlement talks with the city but accuses the city of not negotiating in good faith after talks broke down.

“We were hoping that we could resolve that and get Dayten the services that he needs,” Seitz said, adding the family is struggling to take care of him.

City officials would not comment on camera but did issue a statement, saying it negotiated with the parties but did not reach an agreement. The statement continued, “The Department of Corporation Counsel (COR) ... is continuing to litigate this matter in the best interests of the city.”

Another lawsuit representing four other injured passengers settled at $4.5 million earlier this year. And another filed by the driver is still pending. No hearing date has been set for the new federal complaint.