A newly released video allegedly shows three Honolulu Police Department vehicles leaving the scene of a crash at the conclusion of a police chase in Makaha on Sept. 12.
The footage provided to Civil Beat by attorney Michael Stern was taken at a nearby 7-Eleven and shows a charcoal-gray 4Runner closely pursuing the Honda Civic operated by Jonaven Perkins-Sinapati with its lights off, Stern said.
Seconds later, two cruisers are also seen following the Honda with their lights off, he added.
Moments after the video was shot, the Honda carrying Perkins-Sinapati and five other people veered off the road, struck a concrete curb, collided with trees and continued over a concrete wall at the intersection of Orange Street and Farrington Highway, seriously injuring five of the occupants, according to Stern and an HPD report detailing the crash.
Lawyers representing the occupants of the car, as well as one of the passengers, 20-year-old Justus Sinapati Mason, said that the 4Runner ran the vehicle off the road before fleeing the scene only to return minutes later.
In response to requests for comment, HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said, “The three officers had their police powers removed following the incident and have been reassigned to non-patrol duties. The criminal and administrative investigations are ongoing.”
The newly obtained video shows the three police vehicles pursuing the Honda at a high rate of speed on Farrington Highway before leaving the shot.
Approximately one minute after they are seen chasing the Honda, the police vehicles are seen returning into the camera’s view on Makaha Valley Road, Stern said.
The 4Runner pulls up first and one of the police cruisers is seen pulling alongside it shortly after, according to Stern. The vehicles remain side by side for a few seconds before making a left at a red light on Farrington Highway and going in the opposite direction of the crash.
“So clearly they went around the back after the accident, maybe Jade Street or something,” Stern said. “And they still have lights off on top of that.”
Stern added that his clients should have never been pursued by police that night after they left a party at Maili Beach Park — a party that was allegedly broken up by the same officers involved in the chase who have since had their police powers removed.
“It was probably about 4.2 miles from the beach to where the accident happened,” Stern said. “They were being followed with no lights on so they didn’t know who was behind them.”
He added that police “are required to have their lights on and, if the clients or the driver had done anything wrong, then they would have been pulled over. Nothing like that ever happened.”
Jonaven Perkins-Sinapati was critically injured in the crash and is on life support. Dayten Gouveia was paralyzed from the waist down, and his family is suing the city for damages. Two other occupants fractured their spines and another passenger was struck by glass shards in his left eye during the crash.
HPD initially branded the crash a “single car accident” on their website before removing the post.
“They just caused the accident, left, and tried to cover it up,” Stern said. “A lot of people are going to suffer for the rest of their lives. I’ve handled 2,000 auto accidents. I’ve never had anything close to this.”
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
A good reason not to give
We know not everyone can afford to pay for news right now, which is why we keep our journalism free for everyone to read, listen, watch and share.
But that promise wouldn’t be possible without support from loyal readers like you.
Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.