Critics: Charges against officers in near-fatal police chase are too lenient
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some critics are the city Prosecutor’s Office of being too lenient on the four police officers involved in a near-fatal chase in Makaha in 2021.
But others say the criminal charges against Honolulu Police Officer Joshua Nahulu (for allegedly causing the collision) and Officers Erik Smith, Jake Bartolome and Robert Lewis (for hindering prosecution) were appropriate.
“The charges in my mind are absolutely minimal in a situation where several people almost died,” said attorney Eric Seitz, who represents Dayten Gouveia, who was initially paralyzed in the crash.
“The charges themselves are likely to result in sentences to probation and I think that’s appalling.”
Prosecutors allege that Nahulu caused the crash when he chased a white Honda at high speed with his blue lights and siren off back in September 2021.
Attorneys said Nahulu had previous run-ins with the driver Jonaven Perkins-Sinipati.
Kalala Kalua, whose son Krypton lost sight in his left eye in the crash, wondered why it took 18 months to charge the officers.
“Not only me but other parents as well ... questioned why is it taking too long,” said Kalua.
Former HPD Deputy Chief John McCarthy said complex investigations like this usually take a lot of time.
He added that prosecutors would have had a hard time convicting the officers of more serious charges like attempted manslaughter.
“To say that they attempted to do something like that would be a real stretch and extremely difficult for the prosecution to prove,” said McCarthy.
“They pursued them in a chase not realizing that this the chase would end in tragedy.”
The HPD said three of the officers have been relieved of their police powers since the crash. The fourth is being placed on restricted duty.
An internal investigation is still ongoing.
All four have been released after posting bail.
Nahulu’s bail was $10,000 and bail for the other three was set at $5,000.
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