EXCLUSIVE: HPD officer fired in Las Vegas pot incident reinstated

EXCLUSIVE: HPD officer fired in Las Vegas pot incident reinstated
Shayne Souza and Kevin Fujioka
Shayne Souza and Kevin Fujioka

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of two Honolulu police officers fired after being convicted of marijuana-related charges in Las Vegas in 2009 has been reinstated to HPD, Hawaii News Now has learned.

In August 2009, the two police officers in Las Vegas for a softball tournament were arrested in Desert Breeze Park, a few miles away from the Vegas strip.

Shayne Souza and Kevin Fujioka were charged with marijuana possession and other violations.

Vegas police said when they approached the men's van that smelled of marijuana, they drove away and then ran away on foot.

Police chased them down and detectives said Souza resisted arrest and had to be pepper sprayed.

In the spring of 2010, Fujioka was found guilty of misdemeanor driving under the influence and marijuana charges. Souza pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer.

HPD fired them both.

The police union SHOPO appealed Souza's termination to an arbitrator who ruled in favor of HPD, so Souza did not get his job back.  He had been fired once before by HPD and had already been reinstated once.

But police union officials said Fujioka successfully appealed his firing to a different arbitrator, who reinstated him.

So Fujioka went back to work. He's now assigned to the training division at the police academy in Waipahu, an HPD spokeswoman said.

"What people don't see is the circumstances that led up to the termination and also how the investigation was conducted," said Tenari Maafala, who heads the statewide police officers' union.

"If the investigation obviously is subjective, there are a lot of loopholes there.  And it becomes a window, an opportunity for SHOPO to expose that," Maafala said.

Maafala said in the cases of Fujioka and Souza, they each had different arbitrators. And Maafala said some arbitrators are tougher on police officers and hold them to a higher standard in termination cases.  So just like at the gambling tables in Las Vegas, whether officers get their jobs back can come down to a bit of luck.

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