HONOLULU (KHON2) — The city is poised to approve a $10 million settlement over a deadly crash in 2019 that killed three people. The settlement puts taxpayers on the hook for one of the largest payouts ever made — and there are more lawsuits pending.
The crash in Kakaako two years ago killed three people and injured four others. The driver of the pickup truck, Alins Sumang, pleaded guilty in June and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. There are five civil lawsuits pending against the city. One is filed by the widow and parents of Dr. Travis Lau. The city council is poised to approve to settle that lawsuit for $10 million on Wednesday.
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“It’s almost unheard of by City and County of Honolulu standards, by State of Hawaii standards, or even any of the large institutions that are here in our state,” said Doug Chin, former city managing director.
“It’s always such a difficult issue because we’re talking about peoples lives, but we’re also talking about money that support other peoples lives,” said Ann Kobayashi, former city council member.
Kobayashi served as a council member on and off for 16 years. The highest amount she recalls the city approving was $4 million. Chin, who was a city managing director, says the city has insurance that will pay half of the $10 million, so taxpayers will pay the rest. With four other lawsuits pending from the crash, Chin points out that the city budget will take a big hit.
“Once you are in the $10 million, eight-figure range, that’s a very high amount, and that’s a signal for what the future will be for the other lawsuits,” said Chin.
KHON2 obtained HPD bodycam video of two officers talking about the crash. An attorney for the victims says one officer did not follow protocols because during the pursuit he did not have a flashing light and continuous siren on.
“At no time was there any pursuit or whatever when you turn lights… My lights were not on, strobe lights were not on. You know how they’re going to look for that,” said one officer.
“That’s why I said they’re going to try get me on this one because if there’s video and stuff,” said another officer.
The city council chair released a statement saying, “The City continues to pay millions of dollars in situations that may have been avoided with more comprehensive training… We have a new interim chief and soon will have a new chief of police and we look forward to seeing the reforms they implement.”
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HPD did not want to comment because of the pending lawsuits.