A state judge ruled that the Honolulu Police Commission erred when it refused to hire an attorney for one of the officers accused of framing the uncle of prosecutor Katherine Kealoha for the theft of her mailbox.
Judge Keith Hiraoka ruled Friday that HPD Officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen is entitled to a defense provided by the city because he was sued in a civil action for “acts done in the performance of duty as a police officer.”
Hiraoka’s decision overturns the commission’s decision last year to deny Nguyen legal counsel paid for by taxpayers.
Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen challenged the Police Commission’s decision to deny him legal assistance.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Nguyen and another officer, Daniel Sellers, were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana. That lawsuit will proceed after a federal corruption case against the Kealoha, her husband, Louis, and other officers goes to trial.
In the lawsuit, Puana accused Nguyen and Sellers of conspiring with Katherine Kealoha to frame him for the theft of her mailbox. He’s suing the two officers; his niece; her husband, the former Honolulu police chief, as well as three retired officers: Dru Akagi, Walter Calistro and Niall Silva.
Sellers asked the commission for legal representation and was granted it. But Nguyen’s request was denied.
Police Commission Chair Loretta Sheehan said that while the judge’s decision will be discussed at the commission’s meeting Wednesday, she doubted it would be appealed.
Thoughts on this or any other story? Write a Letter to the Editor. Send to email@example.com and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. And you can still comment on stories on our Facebook page.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Will you help us?
There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, factual, honest journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?