More than four years after a fiery crash killed a Honolulu police officer on the H-1 Freeway, a jury found the man behind it guilty of negligent homicide.
In January 2012, Scott Ebert was driving more than 80 miles per hour on the H-1 Freeway near the Kaonohi overpass when he slammed his truck into the back of a patrol car.
Officer Garret Davis, 28, had stopped to help a driver with a blown tire in the left lane. Davis’ marked vehicle burst into flames and he died at the scene.
On Thursday, a jury found Ebert guilty of negligent homicide in the third-degree, which was the lowest of options members had to consider. He had previously been indicted on a manslaughter charge.
Ebert was a fire inspector with the Federal Fire Department and an Air Force reservist. Court records revealed he had several traffic violations, including speeding.
He faces up to one year in prison when he is sentenced in August.
“We are extremely disappointed with the verdict,” said Honolulu Chief of Police Louis Kealoha. “This tragedy is a painful reminder of how dangerous police work is. Officer Davis was on a routine mail run when he stopped to help stranded motorists. Our hearts go out to the Davis family.”
“I’m disappointed with the verdict and again, I’m at a loss for words, but at the end of the day, it’s not about any one of us but the Davis ohana, so I hope to some extent that this brings somewhat of a closure to the family,” said Tenari Maafala, president of SHOPO, the police officers’ union, “but again, knowing how we feel as fellow law-enforcement officers on the verdict, no doubt we’re disappointed.”
Davis’ family played a major role in the passage of Hawaii’s “move over” bill, which requires drivers to keep one lane between their vehicle and any emergency vehicle when possible.
It also requires drivers to slow down when approaching the scene of a crash or traffic stop.
According to the Honolulu Police Department, 961 citations have been issued since the law took effect in 2012.