HONOLULU (KHON2) — It was a horrific vehicle crash that killed three pedestrians and injured numerous others at a Kakaako crosswalk in January. KHON2 obtained city bus video and police body camera footage that reveal new evidence.
Two victims of the crash and a family member have filed a lawsuit recently against the suspected driver, an HPD officer, and the city. In the court records, they claim the officer’s improper pursuit pushed the suspect into the pedestrian-friendly area.
HONOLULU (KHON2) — Video from the city bus shows suspect Alins Sumang’s truck whizzing past the bus on Ala Moana Boulevard, followed by Honolulu Police Officer Sheldon Watts.
You can hear someone say this:
“Just happened, the guy was speeding, the cop was chasing um.”
“This officer was, in fact, in pursuit. It was a high-speed pursuit within a very short period before the accident,” said Attorney Robert Kawamura.
After seeing the video, we reached out to Kawamura who represents two surviving victims and the family of Casimir Pokorny, who died at the scene. Kawamura claims the high-speed chase pushed the suspect into the pedestrian-friendly area where the crash took place.
“Had the officer followed protocol and had he had his continuous siren and flashing light on, then the victims would have had a chance to be alerted to their fast approaching pursuit and they would’ve been able to take evasive action,”
We’ve also obtained video from an officer’s body camera and you can hear the witnesses.
Witness: “We saw ‘um running from the cop.”
Witness: “The cop was chasing ‘um from like Pensacola. He turned right in front of us. And he was like trying to book it from the cop.”
Kawamura says there were at least two witnesses that made statements about a high-speed pursuit.
“And these witness statements were omitted in the police report or at least references to the fact that the officer wasn’t in pursuit, in fact, in the 853-page report there’s no mention of any pursuit,” he said.
This is video from an officers body camera and you can hear an exchange between the officer and a supervisor
Supervisor: “I know you know already. But just be very detailed (unintelligible) we don’t want anything coming back thinking that, at no time was this some kind of pursuit, where you drove the guy into…I mean, granted he’s probably 210 but you know what I mean just to cover yourself very well.”
Officer: “Thank you.”
“Something like this where they omit critical statements from the police report is going to rattle the public’s confidence in any government entity when they are investigating something you’re going to wonder whether in fact they’re gathering and including all evidence that comes in,” said Kawamura.
Police say Sumang was drunk when he plowed through the intersection. Sumang pled not guilty to manslaughter and is being held on $1 million bail.
Officer Watts is currently on restricted duty. Both HPD and the city tell us they cannot comment on pending litigation.