HPD solo bike officer killed in training accident

Fallen in the line of Duty
Published: Jul. 23, 2012 at 4:22 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 24, 2012 at 9:03 AM HST
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HPD Officer Chad Morimoto
HPD Officer Chad Morimoto
HPD Chief Louis Kealoha
HPD Chief Louis Kealoha
SHOPO president Tenari Maafala
SHOPO president Tenari Maafala
HPD acting chief Richard Robinson
HPD acting chief Richard Robinson

MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Honolulu police officer died after taking part in escort training in Mililani. Officer Chad Morimoto, 39, was riding a BMW motorcycle during an exercise on Lanikuhana Avenue at about 11:45 a.m. on Monday, according to investigators.

"The Traffic Division's solo bike detail was training near Mililani District Park when Officer Chad Morimoto's motorcycle slid out from under him and hit a curb," said HPD chief Louis Kealoha.

Medics rushed Morimoto to the Pali Momi Medical Center where he died. SHOPO president Tenari Maafala, who is part of HPD's Peer Support Unit, showed up at the hospital along with many others.

"I would say at least 300 officers. Some that were just getting off of work and those that were involved with the investigation itself. Some of the officers, of course, his recruit classmates," said Maafala.

HPD said the Traffic Division conducts this type of training whenever new officers are assigned to the unit which is about four times a year. Some Mililani residents who saw the exercise said it seemed smooth.

"Who knows what happened, but from what you could see here, it was normal textbook operations, how they do it," said Mililani resident Hugh Gentry.

But another person said the motorcycle officers were weaving in and out of traffic.

"It was just a basic escort training, and as far as speeds and all the details of the investigation, it's still going on so we don't have the exact speeds they were going," said Kealoha.

"Whenever we have a death in the department, we review all of our procedures, our equipment, and anything else we can to see if a situation like this could be avoided in the future or the risk could be minimized," said HPD acting chief Richard Robinson.

Morimoto attended Lahainaluna High School and joined HPD in 2004. He worked as a patrol officer in Waikiki before moving to the Traffic Division to become a motorcycle officer two years ago. Those who knew the fallen officer have many fond memories of him as a jokester who was always smiling.

"My personal description of him is a happy-go-lucky prankster. I've been fortunate that I wasn't on the receiving end of one of his pranks, but his beat partners and those who were fortunate to work alongside him have fell to his pranks one time or another," Maafala said.

Morimoto is the 46th HPD officer killed in the line of duty. He is survived by his wife, 20-year-old stepdaughter, and 11-year-old son.

Morimoto is the third police officer to die on Oahu in the past year. Officer Garret Davis was killed in a crash on the H-1 after he pulled over to help a stranded motorist in January.  Officer Eric Fontes, was also killed when he was struck by a vehicle during a routine traffic stop last September.

The last HPD motorcycle officer killed in the line of duty was Officer Steve Favela. Back in November 2006, the 30 year-old father of four was part of a motorcade escorting then President George W. Bush. His motorcycle and two others got into a chain reaction crash on slick roads at Hickam Air Force Base.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.