Motorcyclist critically injured by HPD officer awarded $3M settlement
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A motorcyclist will get $3M after a settlement with the city over a 2014 collision with a Honolulu Police Officer.
The 10-year veteran of the force, Officer Jeremy Newman, made an improper U-turn on Kalakaua Avenue near Ala Wai Boulevard on October 15, 2014.
Haibo "Bobby" Peng t-boned the police cruiser as a result.
"Bobby had a cracked skull, serious brain injury, multiple broken bones in his spine," says his attorney Aaron Creps who added that he needed shoulder surgery and still has to see a neurologist, orthopedist, and pain management doctor.
Creps says Peng worked as a massage therapist for a Waikiki resort before the accident, but has not been able to work a day since.
Officer Newman told investigators that he made the improper u-turn because he was going after a jaywalker, a homeless man, but there was no evidence or witness statements that confirmed that.
Creps believes the officer was just trying to avoid a longer commute back to the station, by avoiding a series of one way streets.
"The evidence is he made that U-turn as a shortcut to get back to the police station, and he was abusing the police powers that we give him to keep us all safe, and saw himself as being above the law," says Creps.
Officer Newman's statements that he activated his siren and emergency lights before the collision was also a focus of the years long litigation.
Creps says this is important, because that would show that Officer Newman was trying to alert the public of his maneuver.
Surveillance video obtained by Hawaii News Now from a nearby building shows the lights were not on, not before the turn was made, and not at the time of impact.
In a videotaped deposition last year, Officer Newman seem to dance around his original statements.
Creps asks: "You would agree that HPD standards require you to turn on your blue lights earlier than you did, right?"
Officer Newman answers: "I dont think, I can wholeheartedly agree with it. I think that it's kind of a hindsight, 20-20, 'monday morning quarterback'. What are you going to do now that this it is all broken down into segments and seconds and fractions. I think that when I made the decision to take that u-turn I had already been chirping my siren and I had illuminated my blue lights as I was approaching the clear lane."
HPD Chief Susan Ballard issued this statement to Hawaii News Now: "While accidents can and do happen, officers are trained to avoid maneuvers based on traffic conditions that may cause injury to someone else," Ballard said in her statement.
"An investigation into the Waikiki collision showed that our officer acted in error, causing serious and significant injury to a member of the public. As a result, action was taken against the officer which included driver retraining. The officer presently works in a nonpatrol assignment. An investigation ... showed that our officer acted in error, causing serious and significant injury to a member of the public. As a result, action was taken against the officer which included driver retraining."
Officer Newman is currently in the narcotics/vice unit at HPD.
Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.