HONOLULU (KHON2) — Four Honolulu Police Department officers have been charged with felony offenses in connection to a 2021 accident in Makaha.
According to the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, the officers involved in the incident were Joshua Nahulu, Erik Smith, Jake Bartolome and Robert Lewis.
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The incident happened on September 12 at around 3:30 a.m. when the officers were responding to a noise complaint at Maili Beach Park.
Prosecutors said, after the officers saw a white Honda sedan exiting a parking lot onto Farrington Highway, they allegedly followed the vehicle in an unannounced pursuit.
Nahulu was apparently closest to the sedan when it left the highway and crashed onto private property. All six occupants of the sedan were injured, some critically.
Attorney Michael Green represents the driver of the car, who he said, will forever be impacted by the crash.
“My client’s brain is damaged,” said Michael Green, an attorney. “It’ll never be the same and then they ran away.”
“There’s security video, cameras where these cops kind of get together on the roadway, they take off, they run away,” Green further explained. “Then they came back and they said, what happened here.”
Prosecutors said Nahulu, Smith and Bartolome allegedly drove past the crash scene and shortly after all four of the officers were dispatched to the scene. The officers allegedly behaved as if they had no knowledge of what happened.
When Smith, Bartolome, and Lewis submitted their reports they left out the events that happened before the crash, according to prosecutors.
Attorney Eric Seitz represents one of the people in the car who he said was severely injured.
“I’m very interested to know why it took so long. It’s been 18 months since this incident occurred. In almost every other city that I’m aware of where incidents like this have occurred, it doesn’t take more than a month or two to charge the police officers who are involved in something as serious as this.”
Nahulu has been charged with collisions involving death or serious bodily injury.
The other three officers were charged with hindering prosecution in the first degree and conspiracy to commit hindering prosecution in the first degree.
Acting HPD Chief Keith Horikawa issued a statement on behalf of Chief Joe Logan, who’s on leave. The statement said:
“The charges filed against these officers by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney are serious as was the collision that resulted in injuries to multiple individuals. Three of the officers had their police powers removed following the crash, and the fourth officer’s police powers will also be restricted. Along with the collision investigation, an internal administrative investigation was initiated and remains open.”
“No jury wants to see something like this with people that are paid to serve and protect by the City and County,” Green said.
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Officer Nahulu’s attorney had no comment at this time.