KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a case that raises serious ethical questions, a Honolulu police sergeant was given a "courtesy" ride home by officers who suspected he was driving drunk, Hawaii News Now has learned.
He was subsequently rushed back to the scene, though, after officers discovered he might have been in an accident in his police-subsidized vehicle.
Here's what happened: Sgt. Dennis Stone was pulled over January 31, just before 2 a.m. He was off-duty, but driving his HPD-subsidized Dodge Charger.
The officer who pulled him over wrote in his report that Stone was driving on Kahekili Highway with a tire that was so flat it was shredded and the rim was sparking.
The officer also wrote that Stone's breath smelled of alcohol.
A second patrol officer gave Stone the "courtesy" ride to his home, about two miles away.
But just minutes later, the officers discovered the Dodge Charger had damage to the front fender. That's when the same officer who drove Stone home rushed back to return him to the scene.
Jonathan Burge, a former HPD officer who's now a criminal defense attorney, said the officers' actions don't just raise eyebrows. They could have put a serious investigation in jeopardy.
"At the time that they took him home and there was all this damage, they didn't know whether or not somebody was hurt," said Burge, who is not connected to the case. "For all they knew, he plowed into somebody two blocks away. That could have been disastrous."
When Stone was brought back to the scene, an on-duty sergeant responded and noted that Stone's breath smelled of alcohol and that his face and eyes were red.
He told Stone that he wanted to do a field sobriety test. Stone refused and was arrested.
Officers followed the marks on the highway from Stone's tire rim about a half a mile -- to the intersection of Kahekili Highway and Keaahala Road. They determined that Stone hit the concrete median there and left the scene.
What makes the episode worse is that law enforcement experts say the current case against Stone probably won't hold up in court.
"The case itself is very weak," said Aaron Hunger, a University of Hawaii criminology instructor. "I would doubt criminally the prosecutor's office would see this as a case that would be winnable. A lot of policies were not followed."
Stone is on restricted duty while criminal and internal investigations continue.
He is a 24-year veteran of the force, and he's been in trouble before.
Three years ago, as a corporal, he was charged with assault for beating up his daughter's boyfriend. He was fired, but got his job back a year later. Four months after that, he got promoted.