Lawyer hopes Honolulu police officer facing criminal charges can get fair trial

Officer Scott Valdez
Officer Scott Valdez
Jeff Hawk, Defense Attorney
Jeff Hawk, Defense Attorney

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu judge on Thursday granted a Honolulu police officer's request for permission to travel to Disneyland while awaiting trial for allegedly attacking a motorist.

Officer Scott Valdez appeared before Circuit Judge Richard Perkins for arraignment, and pleaded not guilty to felony unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and misdemeanor criminal property damage. Trial was set for November.

With the recent wave of HPD officers being accused of criminal wrongdoing, the lawyer for Valdez says he's hoping that his client can get a fair trial.

A Honolulu police officer sat in a courtroom accused of violating his oath to uphold the law.

"Like any person facing criminal charges, he's concerned," Jeff Hawk, defense attorney, said. "He's frightened, but he's also confident that the system will work."

Scott Valdez, 43, is accused of reaching into a car during a traffic stop and shoving the driver multiple times. It allegedly happened on the H-1 Freeway near the Punahou Street overpass in March.

Valdez was a motorcycle officer at the time. He's also accused of damaging the car by slamming the driver's airsoft pistol onto the trunk.

"At this point, we don't really have any comment because we don't know the exact facts of the case," Hawk said.

Hawk told the judge that Valdez was planning to leave Saturday for a week-long, pre-paid family trip to Disneyland. Hawk sought approval for his client to leave the jurisdiction, and also asked that the $1,000 bail that Valdez posted be returned.

The judge refused to return the defendant's bail money, but approved his travel.

According to HPD, Valdez is one of about two dozen officers either under criminal investigation or already being prosecuted. Recently, Officer Michael Tarmoun was indicted for allegedly sexually assaulting a prostitute, and Officer John Rapozo was charged with shoplifting a computer game and a hat from a Wal-Mart.

"What are some concerns you have in that regard?" this reporter asked.

"Well, of course, any publicity having to do with police officers would be bad for this case," Hawk said. "But we're hoping that Officer Valdez is treated like any other person and he gets a fair, full and fair trial."

HPD has stripped Valdez of his gun and badge pending the outcome of the case.

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